Saturday, May 31, 2008

Practicing Greatness - 7 Disciplines

Prov. 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2
for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of
insight; 3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what
is right and just and fair...
Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders
Based on his extensive experience as coach and mentor to many
thousands of Christian leaders across a broad spectrum of ministry
settings, Reggie McNeal helps spiritual leaders understand that they
will self-select into or out of greatness. In this important book,
McNeal shows how great spiritual leaders are committed consciously
and intentionally to seven spiritual disciplines, habits of heart and
mind that shape both their character and competence:
1. The discipline of self-awareness—the single most important body of
information a leader possesses.
2. The discipline of self-management—handling difficult emotions,
expectations, temptations, mental vibrancy, and physical well-being.
3. The discipline of self-development—a life-long commitment to
learning and growing and building on one's strengths.
4. The discipline of mission—enjoying the permissions of maintaining
the sense of God's purpose for your life and leadership.
5. The discipline of decision-making—knowing the elements of good
decisions and learning from failure.
6. The discipline of belonging—the determination to nurture
relationships and to live in community with others, including family,
followers, mentors, and friends.
7. The discipline of aloneness—the intentional practice of soul-
making solitude and contemplation.
I love these ideas. Would you say that these "disciplines, habits or
practices" are in your life?
Which one do you need to pay a little more attention?

D-E-S-I-G-N: Who Am I? Part 3

I have arranged and asked some questions to help you think through your DESIGN:
1. Drives
What gets your heart beating fast? What really excites you?
What makes you cry? What breaks your heart?
What do you think is your passion? What burden do you have?
2. Experiences
What are some unique experiences that have happened in your life?
What have been "defining moments" or spiritual markers along the way?
Who are your heroes?
What have been your high points? Your low points?
Have you experienced a "dark night of the soul"? Have you gone through the wilderness or brokenness? How?
3. Spiritual Gifts
What is your spiritual gift? Romans 12 lists 7 gifts.
What is your spiritual pathway? Gary Thomas writes of different spiritual pathways… Intellectual, contemplative, worship, nature, relational, activist, other?
How do you best connect with God?
4. Impact
What arena do you feel most compelled to impact? Politics, business, the church, economics or other?
Are you inclined to work with children, teens, singles, couples, young adults, men, single parents other?
If time, money or education were not an issue, what would you do?
5. Genius
What natural gifts has God given you?
What can you do "effortlessly"? What do you do repeatedly, successfully and happily?
What do you do extremely well?
What is your leadership style? Visionary, strategic, shepherd, manager, directional or motivational?
Do you prefer to work with things, people or projects?
6. Nature
What is your personality?
Extrovert vs. Introvert
Sensing or Intuitive
Thinking or Feeling
Structured or Spontaneous
People or Task oriented

D-E-S-I-G-N: Who Am I? Part 2

Last time we looked at the first 10 areas that make all of us unique. Here are some additional areas.
11. Our Natural Gifts
Am I an artistic, athletic, academic?
12. Our Spiritual Gifts:
Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. [7] If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; [8] if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
13. Our education
14. Our experiences
This is our LifeMap. It is important to remember that God has been with us and leading all the time.
Deut. 8:2-3 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. [3] He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
15. Our spiritual pathway
There are many different ways to draw near to God. Some are intellectual, relational, worship, nature, contemplative, serving, and activist. (See Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways)
Spiritual Pathways
16.     Our style of leadership
There are many different styles of leadership: Visionary, entrepreneurial, strategic, motivational, shepherding, role model and managerial
Finding Your Leadership Style
17.     Our style of ministry
Someone has suggested that there are different styles of ministry based on the offices of Christ.
a.    Prophetic disruptions
b.    Kingly leadership
c.    Priestly connection
18.    Our passion for ministry
19.    Our genius, highest and best use or our core competencies
20.    Our weaknesses
I believe that when we take the time to see how fearfully and wonderfully we are made, we come alive. We experience a peace and joy that is so fulfilling. Our hearts are at rest and we fulfill the purposes of God for our lives in our generation. How well do you know who you are and who you aren't? Take some time to discover.

Friday, May 30, 2008

D-E-S-I-G-N: Who Am I? Part 1

I have been thinking a lot about that question, "Who Am I?" and this subject of DESIGN. I have often thought, "God, why did you make me like this?" For so long I have wanted to be like so many other people. I am not sure why or from where this has come. Wounded ness? Pride? The world, flesh or devil? I don't really know.
I sensed the Lord say to me one day, "John, you are growing in self awareness". As my soul has been healing and restoring, I have not looked out so much to others. I am seeing more clearly how and why God made me. There are so many levels to a human being. It is so true that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I have thought of at least 21 levels.
1.    We were thought of and designed before the foundation of the world.
Jeremiah 1:4-5 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, [5] "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
2.    We were seen and formed uniquely in our mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. [14] I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  [15] My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, [16] your eyes saw my unformed body. 
3.    Our parents were assigned to us
4.    Our gender was established
5.    Our race and nationality was set
Acts 17:26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
6.    Our time in history
Acts 13:36 "For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.
7.    Our number of days and time of death
Psalm 139:16 All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
8.    Our brothers and sisters
9.    Our birth order
10.  Our temperament
There are many assessments to help us understand the way God made us and understand other…DISC; MBTI; Rightpath; Strength Finder
Understanding your MBTI (Myers-Briggs)
http://www.personalitypathways.com/type_inventory.html
We will look at the next 11 in Part 2.
What about you? Do you know who you are and who you aren't? It is a great place to be when you accept your God given DESIGN.

LIFEMAP: What's Your Story? Part 3

In November 2001, just 4 years later, at the age of 47, Debbie and I attended L.E.A.D. (Leadership Evaluation And Development) at Dallas Seminary.  In preparation for that week we had to prepare our "Life Map."
This map considered our heritage, our high points, our low points, our heroes, and our defining moments. We did this exercise to seek to get a handle on our past and prepare for the next steps in our journey. It was an extremely helpful exercise.
1. Heritage
2. High Points
3. Low Points
4. Heroes
5. Defining moments
Start from 0 to current age in 5 year increments. Then list all the +5 and +10 events above the line and the -5 and -10 events below the line.
Another thing you will discover through this exercise. Your low points, your (-10) experiences were caused by one of three things. First, either foolish decisions that you made. Secondly, or things that were done to you. Thirdly, God was permitting what He could have prevented. (Like the loss of a parent etc.) Either way, there are things that you must forgive and other things for which you must repent and ask forgiveness. When you take care of these past things, it will free us up for a desirable and fruitful future.
Take time to do your Lifemap. It will be a very revealing and helpful exercise to move forward.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

LIFEMAP: What's Your Story? Part 2

J. Robert Clinton's book, "The Making of a Leader",  expanded my thinking about the seasons of life by using different labels and descriptions. He introduced me to the idea of a "Generalized Time Line" and I put mine together in October of 1997.
I. Sovereign Foundations
This is the part of life over which you have very little control.  It deals with:
•    Your heritage
•    Your parents and grandparents
•    Your gender
•    Your race
•    Your birth order
•    Your temperament
•    Your education
•    Your experience
•    Your spiritual life
These are the early parts of our lives that God formed, fashioned, directed or permitted for His glory and Name's sake.
II.    Inner Life Growth
This is the season where God is developing the interior part of the person; developing character to match assignment.  He is more interested in the root system than the fruit that is manifested publicly.
III.    Ministry Maturity
This is the season where a number of things are initiated.  A number of ministries are started and experimented.  This is where we begin to see the things at which we are good and not so good.
IV.    Life Maturing
This is an important but painful season.  This is a time when the Lord leads or allows us to go into seasons of isolation, conflict or crisis.  One of the primary purposes of this is to get our lives and ministries to come from being (who we are) instead of doing (what we do).  It is a season to develop a deep, abiding, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He continues to prune, purge and crush us so that we may bear much fruit.  He assumes through this season that our life is about His kingdom, His glory, His image and His strength.  He knows that we have been prepared as a vessel fit for His use, then He leads us into convergence.
V.    Convergence
Convergence is a season of alignment.  Alignment according to our D-E-S-I-G-N:
•    Drives
•    Experiences
•    Spiritual Gifts
•    Impact
•    Genius
•    Nature
It is a season that results from time of prayerful examination, reflection and processing of life.  We are able to see the sovereign, loving hand of our Heavenly Father who has been leading and shaping all the way.  Convergence is a season that unfolds, more in response to invitations versus personal initiations.  This season is displayed with grace, peace, rest, life, hope, wisdom and the fruit of the spirit. Only God knows the number of days and years this season will last.  It is a time to be fully enjoyed but not held on to.  Any and all fruit is for the glory of God and to be produced by Him. 
VI.    Afterglow
After a full season and life of walking with the Savior, a man or woman moves into a season of "Afterglow."  This is a time of remembrance and reflection on the goodness of our God; of a life well spent with the Savior.  It is a season of great anticipation of eternity with the Savior for whom they surrendered their life, will and ways.
In what season are you? Do you see the Hand of God at work shaping you to be the man and leader He is calling you to be?

LIFEMAP: What's Your Story? Part 1

I believe it is important to stop and step back before you can effectively move forward. It is important for one to consider, "From where have I come?"
I was first exposed to the idea of a life map and seasons in a person's life when I went to a Pastor's Conference at Moody Bible Institute at the age of 22.  Ross Rhoads was saying that our:
20's are years of PREPARATION
30's are years of INITIATION
40's-50's are years of DOMINATION
60's-70's are years of CONSOLIDATION. 

I was really struck by this thought and it has continued with me for the last 32 years.
As I continued through life for the next 21 years and got kicked around along the way, I noticed at the age of 43 that life was being squeezed out of me.  Debbie said, "I'm through trying to make you happy."  There was an ache in my soul that I did not know from where it came. I was described as "Eey-ore".  I became very pessimistic and my outlook on life was very negative. I was not living authentically and I felt I should resign the ministry. John Trent calls this an "Emotional Freeze Point"…a season of time when unexamined or unprocessed layers of hurt are laid down. 

As I was trying to find out what was wrong in my soul, I spoke with a fellow pastor in Reston. He carefully listened to the cries of my heart and said it sounded like I was near "Convergence". I had never heard of this word or concept before and he pointed me to a book called "The Making of a Leader," by J. Robert Clinton. We will consider more from that in Part 2.
What about you? What season do you find yourself? God is writing an amazing story in and with you. 


Monday, May 26, 2008

How do I become a Prevailing Man? Part 6

We have asked, how does one become a Prevailing Man? So far we have looked at several "Catalysts for Growth".
1. Practical Bible Teaching
2. Private Disciplines
3. Power of the Holy Spirit
4. Providential Relationships.
5. Pivotal Circumstances
All of us have had "defining moments" or spiritual markers along the way that have shaped our lives. Good, bad and ugly experiences. Failed relationships, rejections, false accusations, financial disasters, loss of loved ones and many, many more. God has sovereignly permitted or prevented them. Why?
1.    To humble us, to test us and know what is in our hearts
2.    To draw us into a close, dependent relationship with Him
3.    To cause us to lose our kingdom, our glory, our image and our strength.
4.    To bring beauty from ashes
The key is to receive these things and not resist them because our life story will mainly be told from our weakness and His strength.
Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
James 1:2-4 - 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.
6. Personal Ministry
People grow as a result of using their gifts and talents before the Lord. God has made us in His image. We are to discover our design and use our gifts. Two things occur: we grow and the body of Christ grows. In God's kingdom we live by dying, we gain by giving, we win by losing, and we lead by serving.
1 Peter 4:10 - Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
Hebrews 5:14 - But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In conclusion, we must remember one more thing. Time. There is no substitute for time. It takes time to grow and mature and become wise. Eccles. 3:11 - He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Do you see how God is using the Pivotal Circumstances in your life?
Are you involved in a Personal Ministry so that you can receive by giving?
Over time, these things will help us become Prevailing Men of God.

How do I become a Prevailing Man? Part 5

We have already considered the first two "Catalysts for Spiritual Growth" and how one becomes a Prevailing Man:
1. Practical Bible Teaching
2. Private Disciplines

Today I want to consider two more:
3. The Power of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit does an amazing work in transforming us into the likeness of Christ. He does this through His ministries of teaching, convicting, leading, comforting, helping and interceding for us.
2 Cor. 3:17-18 - Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. [18] And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
4. Providential Relationships
I am convinced that we cannot become prevailing men of God without the help of a lot of different kinds of relationships. As we look at the life of the Lord Jesus He seemed to have relationships with 70 – 12 – 3 and 1. We see this at work in our ministry model of:
1.    The Foyer (The multitude)
2.    The Living Room and Friendships(70)
3.    The Kitchen and Family(12)
4.    1 on 1 relationships(3)
5.    A good counselor(1)
We need all these levels to help us process truth and life and become the men God called us to be. We need people ahead of us, beside us and behind us to help us in this race called life. We need relationships that will celebrate us, cheer us on, speak truth into our lives and reflect back to us what they see.
Hebrews 10:24 - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 27:5-6 - Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to change you little by little over time?
Do you have a variety of relationships in your life to help you grow and change?

How do I become a Prevailing Man? Part 4

Private Disciplines Cont.

D. Journaling
Psalm 78:1-4 - O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. [2] I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old-[3] what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. [4] We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.

I have had the enormous pleasure and privilege of recording and journaling my life since 1969. It began with an English teacher in 9th grade at the American School in London. At the time I was not much of a student and very much into sports. She challenged us to begin writing and recording events, thoughts and feelings. I have continued to this day.
As my journaling has "matured", evolved, and developed, people often ask what and how do you do it?
I initially put the following thoughts together for Training Faithful Men back in 1995 in Reston, VA. However, as I have continued to develop my ideas and practices, I have put it into a 101-301 process. (See practical ideas section)
It is important for me to state that my "Spiritual Pathway" is the way of a "contemplative". I love to read, think, pray, study, meditate and write for hours in quiet and solitude. This is not everybody's pathway. You must find your own way in which you best relate to God. (See Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas or Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels)
I simply hope that these ideas will exhort and call you to write and record God's constant and daily activity in our lives. We owe it to the generations to come.
1) What is journaling?
-    Recording the activity of God in my life as seen in Scripture and life experiences.
2) Some Important Presuppositions:
A. God is very active in the world and in my life.  (John 5:17-19)
B. God is leading and intimately involved.  (Matt.10: 29-31)
C. God is still "speaking."  Mark 10:32-34
3) Why journal?
A.     Ex.13: 1-3; 17:8-16 – To record and remember the work of God in my life.
B.    Psalm 78:1-8 – To pass on to the next generation.
C.    Habakkuk 2:1-3 – To help you think through, pray for, and write the vision God has for your life.
D.    Psalm 3; 4 – To help us pause and reflect on the goodness of God.
E.     Psalm 42 – To pour out my soul to God.

Journaling 101
1.    Get a notebook or steno pad – Start small
2.    Write regularly versus daily.
3.    Write day, date, time, and from where
4.    Always carry it with you.
5.    Record Scripture, promptings, and circumstances.
6.    Consider writing out your prayers.
Journaling 201
1.    Seek to capture the big idea for the morning.
2.    Write out the idea or Scripture in your Table of Contents to carry with you throughout the day.
Journaling 301
1.    Review each month to see what the Lord taught you and where He has led you.
2.    Create a "Year in Review" document that you are building month by month
3.    Review quarterly with your spouse on your quarterly get away.
I believe this practice of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reflection will help us become more anchored, Prevailing Men.

How do I become a Prevailing Man? Part 3

2. Private Disciplines Cont.
I believe that a man becomes a prevailing disciple of Jesus Christ through various private disciplines in life. They are time in the Word, Prayer, Fasting and Journaling.
C. Fasting
Matthew 6:16-17 - "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. [17] But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
I believe there are times that we should be given to fasting. It is a spiritual weapon in our warfare against the devil and flesh. This is a very difficult spiritual habit and practice.
1.    What is fasting?
-    It is the voluntary abstinence of food for a predetermined and extended period of time.
2.    Why should I fast?
a.    2 Chron.20:1-4 –
b.    2 Sam.12:15-23; Esther 4:16-17 – For greater time of praying and petition.
c.    Matt.17:21 – To break spiritual bondage.
d.    Acts 13:1,2; 14:21-23 – To gain greater insight to God's will.
e.    1 Cor.9:24-27 – To develop self control and discipline.
3.    When should I fast?
a.    Impromptu
b.    Scheduled
4.    How should I fast?
a.    Begin small – skip a meal
b.    24 hours – Sunset to sunset
c.    36 hours - Breakfast – Lunch - Dinner
d.    3-7 days +
e.    Drink a lot of water
f.    Break with juice or fruit.
5.    Some Cautions and Warnings:
a.    Watch out for pride.
b.    Be alert to warfare.
c.    Legalism – Luke 18:12
For what are you seeking God? Do you need a time to fast and pray?

How do I become a Prevailing Man? Part 2

2. Private Disciplines Cont.
I believe that a man becomes a prevailing disciple of Jesus Christ through various private disciplines in life. They are time in the Word, Prayer, Fasting and Journaling.
B.    Prayer
I love to pray. I have a passion for men to be men of prayer. I once heard my Dad say, "Most people don't believe in the power of prayer".
1) What is prayer?
-    It is the pouring out of my heart to God and bringing my will in alignment with his.

2) What does a man of prayer look like?
-    He prays without ceasing.  1 Thes. 4:7; Col. 4:2
-    He prays daily.  Daniel 6:1-11
-    He prays with his wife…  1 Peter 3:7
-    He prays weekly in small group.
-    He prays intensely.  Mark 9:14-29; Luke 5:16; 6:12

3) Some of my favorite verses on prayer:
1.    Psalms 1, 31, 61, 91, 121
2.    Matt.6:5-18
3.    Matt.26:36-46; Compare Phil.4:6,7
-    V.39- its O.K. to ask for anything.
-    v.39- But it must be accompanied with, "Nevertheless ..."
-    V.44- its O.K. to ask several times.
4.    Luke 18:1-8; Compare Col.4:2
-    Always pray.
-    Never   give up, faint, lose heart.
5. John 17:1-26 The "High Priestly" Prayer
6. Romans 8:26-27
7. Eph.1:15-23; 3:14-21
8. Col.1:9-14
9. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Would you describe yourself as a man of prayer?

How do I become a Prevailing Man? Part 1

How do I become a prevailing man?
When you look at these qualities of a prevailing man, you might ask "how do I become one?" The Lord uses a number of things to cause us to grow and become prevailing men of God. I have observed the following "Catalysts for Spiritual Growth".

1. Practical Bible Teaching
I believe that our week begins on Sunday, the first day of the week. I have often felt that the Word of God that is preached on Sunday could be the Word for that week. Therefore it is critical that the Word is communicated Biblically, clearly, accurately, practically and powerfully. I have observed since coming to North Point in September of 2001 the truth of "teach less for more". Teach one truth clearly and repeatedly. But this word must be applied. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only. People change and grow as they hear, believe, obey and apply the Word.
James 1:22 - Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
2 Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, [17] so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2. Private Disciplines
I believe that a man becomes a prevailing disciple of Jesus Christ through various private disciplines in life. They are time in the Word, prayer, fasting and journaling.

A.    The study and meditation on the Word
I believe some of the most significant growth can occur through daily time spent with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ in His Word. As we read the Word slowly, prayerfully, expectantly and obediently, the Holy Spirit causes the Word of God to come alive to us personally. This is where we commune with the living God and have our minds renewed, our souls restored and our wills redirected.
Psalm 1:1-2 - 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.
1) Why do I meet with God?
-    To pour out my heart before the Lord. I generally do this through writing in my journal
-    To process my thoughts and emotions
-    To peer into the world to come
-    To pray and give my petitions to the Lord
-    To pray for a protection and covering over my family
-    To praise and give thanks for all He has done for me
-    To present my body a living sacrifice
-    To put on the whole armor of God so that I may stand against the evil one.
-    To repent and re-align my will to his
-    To enjoy His Presence and fellowship
-    To receive comfort, guidance and direction for the way I should take
-    To plan my day but trust Him to direct my steps
-    To feed on His Word and look for the big idea for the day…give me this day my daily bread
-    To increase in knowledge and wisdom of God and His ways
-    To increase in my faith, hope and love for my Savior.
-    To act and respond to people the way He leads and calls

2) How do I meet with Him?
-    I begin the night before by trying to get to bed at a decent hour to get 7-8 hours of rest
-    I seek to rise early to meet with God at a regular time and place
-    I am reading slowly through the Bible…little by little…a paragraph at a time.
-    I have a notebook/journal to write thoughts, observations, promptings and ideas
-    I often write out my prayers
-    I listen for and watch for the verse that will stand out for that day…I am looking for… "give me this day my daily bread" kind of thing.
-    I capture it in the "Table of Contents" of my journal and on a 3x5 card
-    I review while in traffic or waiting for someone.
-    This little daily practice has served me well for many, many years.

What is a Prevailing Man? Part 3

Some additional thoughts/descriptions of a Prevailing Man:
1. He loves the Lord his God with all of his heart and his neighbor as himself.
  • Matthew 22:37-40 - Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
2. He fears God and keeps His commands
  • Eccles. 12:13 -  Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 3. He knows who he is and what he has in Christ
3. He is strong in faith, hope and love
  • 1 Cor. 13:13 - And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
4. He walks by faith and not by sight.
  • 2 Cor. 5:7-9 - We live by faith, not by sight. [8] We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. [9] So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
5. He walks in humility and is not proud
  • Proverbs 15:33 - The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
  • Proverbs 22:4 - Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.
6. He walks with a clear conscience void of offense toward God and man.
  • Acts 24:16 - So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
7. He knows how to ask and grant forgiveness all the time.
  • Eph. 4:32 - Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
8. He walks with wisdom and understanding.
  • Proverbs 3:13 - Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
9. He lives with an eternal vs. temporary perspective
  • 2 Cor. 4:16-18 - Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. [17] For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. [18] So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal
10. He does not love this world
  • 1 John 2:15-16 - Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.
Would you consider yourself a Prevailing Man?

What is a Prevailing Man? Part 2

A "Prevailing Man" is also…
1.    A man of God
•    There are several places in Scripture that refer to men as men of God. I love this identity. I do not want to be a man of this world but I want to be a man of God.
•    1 Tim. 6:11-12 - But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. [12] Fight the good fight of the faith.
2.    A man of the Word
•    It is my firm belief that a man cannot be a prevailing man of God unless he is also a man of the Word. It is the Scriptures that renew our minds, restore our souls and redirect our decisions and outcomes. A prevailing man loves it, reads it, studies it, meditates on it, is rooted and grounded in it, believes it, obeys it, rightly divides it and communicates it.
•    Psalm 1:2-3 - But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 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.
•    2 Tim. 2:15 - Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
3.    A man of Prayer
•    A prevailing man loves talking to and listening to God. He prays without ceasing and he prays about everything.
•    Ephes. 3:14-21 For this reason I kneel before the Father, [15] from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. [16] I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, [17] so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, [18] may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, [19] and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. [20] Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
4.    A man of the Spirit
•    He knows the Holy Spirit. He walks in the Spirit. He keeps in step with the Spirit and does not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
•    John 14:16,26 - And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
•    Galatians 5:16 - This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
5.    A man of Purpose
•    He knows the purposes, gifts and calling of God in his life and lives with a mission.
•    1 Tim. 4:14 - Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
6.    A man of Balance
•    He understands his roles in life, marriage, family, work and church and knows how to balance them.
•    2 Tim. 3:10 - You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance…
7.    A man of War
•    He knows his enemies and daily fights the world, the flesh and the devil. He lives with a wartime mentality.
•    1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [9] Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
•    Eph. 6:10 - Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Would you describe yourself as a Prevailing Man?

What is a Prevailing Man? Part 1

OK so what about the "Prevailing Man"? You might wonder or ask, why did I pick the word "prevailing" instead of "faithful, godly" or any other term? I first heard this idea of "prevailing" from Bill Hybels in 1996, when he was calling pastors to lead prevailing churches. I have always wanted to lead a prevailing church but it never seemed to happen. My distorted concept of prevailing back then was a big church of 10,000+ people. (More on that later) One day in my discouragement Debbie said to me, "John I know you want to lead a prevailing church, but I think you are a prevailing man." That one conversation was a defining moment in my life and it has radically redirected the focus and calling of my life.

There are many ways to describe a prevailing man.
Webster defines prevailing as… "Gaining advantage, superiority or victory; having effect; persuading; succeeding".I love the idea of being victorious, having effect and succeeding not only in this life but in the life to come. I want to prevail and succeed in all areas of:
1. MY LIFE/SELF
When I think about my life or my self, I think first of my role as a man of God…my spirit, soul and body.
SPIRIT – To me this is a deep, intimate, growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
SOUL
a.    My Mind – This is having my mind daily renewed and transformed by the Scriptures.
b.    My Will – This is making the right and wise choices all of the time.
c.    My Emotions – This is having my heart full of the fruit of the Spirit…love, joy, peace etc and not full of anger, hate, bitterness and other works of the flesh.
BODY – This is being fit and caring for my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
2. MY MARRIAGE
Intimacy – This is loving Debbie as Christ loved the church and living as one in our spirits, souls ands bodies.
Financial – This is honoring the Lord with all of our wealth and using it for Him according to the Scriptures.
3. MY FAMILY
This is raising a godly generation with our children and grandchildren and having great friendships with all of them. This is also fulfilling all of my roles as a son, brother and uncle.
4. MY WORK
This is being an excellent Pastor/Director of Married Community Groups at NPCC.
5. MY CHURCH
This is using my gifts and calling to the fullest and doing whatever the Lord leads and calls me to do. This is to include ministry to men, marriages and missions.




LIFE. On Purpose. In Balance-BALANCE

BALANCE. What about the "In Balance" piece? For the last 30 years I have seen so many people's lives out of balance where they crash and burn. It has deeply affected me. It caused me to think deeply about living a more balanced life.
I have been exposed to the idea of goals and objectives ever since high school. My Dad use to make my sisters and me set out our goals for the year. Weird eh but true. I am very structured. On a Meyers Briggs assessment I come out as an ESTJ or "Life's Administrators"…imagine that. I have been a reflector and love to think. I have sought to live with purpose and intention…but it really came into crystal clear focus after meeting Jeff Henderson who introduced me to the "1% Club" by Tommy Newberry. One day when Jeff and I were having lunch he pulled out this thing called the "90 day focus" tool. Super intrigued and curious I asked what is that? After Jeff walked me through it I was hooked. I found some tools that enabled me to take this life of purpose and put it into a balanced plan.
In 2004 I attended the 1% Club. Tommy asked me great questions and taught me many practical things…
1.    What is my picture of a desirable future? At 2025-2030-2035?
2.    Who am I spending time with? Associations move me toward or away from my goals
3.    Positive Mental Nutrition. What am I exposing myself to?
4.    Focus on Genius. What do I do with excellence and passion? What do I do repeatedly, happily, and successfully?
5.    Successful Families are not an accident. What are goals for my marriage?
6.    The Weekly Focus. Examine life in 7 day chucks. Focus on three results each week
7.    Strategic Relationships. Why should I spend time with them?
8.    Live a healthy Lifestyle. High energy is not an accident
9.    Every 90 days…the importance of reflection, redirection and recommitment
10.  I want to live a joyful, healthy and productive life until my last breath
11.   Write fewer goals that I am committed to 120%. Make sure they are clear, compelling and why they are important to me.
Over the next several months we will look at several things to help us LIVE ON PURPOSE IN BALANCE. We will look at our past, present and future hopes and dreams.
We will begin by doing a "LIFEMAP". This is the instrument that will help us know from where we came in order to see where God may be leading us.
We will then look at our DESIGN. This begins to answer, who am I? Why do I exist? What is my purpose in life? This is what helps us know who we are and who we aren't. For too many years I lived in my "False Self". God has made us with a "True Self". The true self needs to be recovered and discovered.
Next we will look at our LIFE. What is LIFE? What does it mean to live? How can I be fully alive? We will do this by identifying and defining our ROLES as a MAN, HUSBAND, FATHER, BUSINESSMAN AND CHURCHMAN.
Each role has a PURPOSE. We will look at the PURPOSES of God for our LIFE, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, BUSINESS and CHURCH.
Along with looking at purposes, we will consider VALUES. What is VALUABLE to God and what is valuable to us?
From those values, we will create a personal MISSION statement.
To fulfill this Mission and these Purposes and Values, we will establish PLANS. These plans will help us live a life IN BALANCE.

My Mom-A Woman of the Word

I recently received an email from my Mom and her thoughts from the Scritpures. She wrote,
"John, just wanted you to see what I have from Colossians;
1. Christ In me the hope of Glory.
2  My heart being comforted and knit together in love and full assurance of
understanding.
3. I received Christ Jesus to walk in HIM
4. I am rooted and built up in HIM and established in my faith and abounding
with thanksgiving.
5. I am COMPLETE IN HIM.
6. I am forgiven of all trespasses
7. I am to set my affections on things above;
8. I am to put off the old man and put on the new.
9. I am to let the peace of God rule in my heart.
10 I am to let the word dwell in me richly.
11. Whatsoever I do, I do heartily as unto the Lord.
12. That I may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Finally I shall take heed to the ministry to which I am called that I may
fulfill it. AMEN AND AMEN. From Colossians 1:27- Chpt 2&3.
I am so blessed to have a Mom with a heart and mind like this.

LIFE. On Purpose. In Balance-An Introduction

Life on Purpose in Balance. Just a fancy phrase? A good friend asked
me one day if I just set out to write these things. The answer is no.
I believe these things came to me over time as part of my "Life
Message"...the story that God wrote for and with me. What I would
like to do is give you a brief history of how this came to be.
My first thinking of purpose occurred in 1985 when I started to
pastor a church at the age of 30. I had a man in our church who asked
me this question, "John, why does this church exist? Of all the
churches in Orlando, what is the purpose of this church?" I really
didn't have a decent answer. That began a journey of discovery for
the purposes of the church. I read a book by Chuck Swindoll that
helped me see that the primary purposes of the church are Worship,
Instruction, Fellowship and Evangelism. (W-I-F-E)
My next exposure to the idea of purpose was a seminar that taught me
the 5 purposes of marriage…Companionship, Completion, Enjoyment,
Fruitfulness and Illustration. Ever since I heard those words I have
sought to build my marriage and life on purpose. I have done over 150
weddings and I speak of these at every wedding I perform. These
purposes are a deep part of my being and marriage.
Fast forward to 1996 when I attended the "Purpose Driven Church"
conference by Rick Warren in CA. As I finished this conference I
could not help but think, "If we have all these purposes for the
church, what are the purposes for my life?" I tell people that Rick
Warren stole my idea about the "Purpose Driven Life" :-)
I had already been thinking about the various roles of a MAN,
HUSBAND, FATHER, BUSINESSMAN and CHURCHMAN. It was from these roles
that I began to think about all the purposes of each area.
Are you living your life on purpose? Or is it more of a random
experience?
We will look at BALANCE next time.

My Father's Wedding Ring


Recently my mother gave me my father's wedding ring after he
"graduated" to heaven in 2005. They were married 52 years. I have put
this ring in a drawer that I open every day. The drawer contains all
the things I use to get ready for a new day. Every time I open that
drawer and get ready, I see my Dad's wedding ring. Every day it
speaks to me of his fidelity and faithfulness to our God, my Mom and
our family. He fulfilled the vows he made..."for better or worse, for
richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part".
I am inspired by this every day. I want to be a man who is faithful
all the way to the end...faithful to my God, faithful to my wife,
faithful to my family, and faithful to God's family.
What do you look at often to remind you of the vows you made before
God and other witnesses?

A Generous God and Father

I have been thinking about how generous is our God and Father.
  1. He created the heavens and the earth and they are full of His glory and goodness.
  2. He gave us His Son, Jesus, so that we could live again.
  3. He gave us the Holy Spirit who is our Comforter and Counselor.
  4. He gave us the Scriptures which communicate the truth and guide our thoughts, words and actions.
  5. He gave us all things that pertain to life and godliness for our enjoyment.
  6. He gave us one another.
Realizing how good and generous is our God, it has made me, as one made in His image, want to be generous as well. I want to be generous with my time, my talents and all of our resources.
Psa. 112:5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.
Prov. 11:25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Would you say that you are a generous person? God is!




Great Questions

Recently a friend of mine, Dan Diaddigo, sent these great questions when he exhorted us to "travel knightly". When considering men and traveling companions, he asked,
  1. Do they kneel before a risen King?  Do they rise against injustice?
  2. Do they speak Truth into the fog of men?  Do they stay their tongues for sake of others?
  3. Do they still themselves in the deep place?  Do they fight with honor in proper season?
  4. Do they resist empty offerings of the proud?  Do they invite the company of broken people?
  5. Do they forsake fa├žade in search of substance?  Do they sustain the weak and protect the frail?
  6. Do they hear the same voice you hear?  That whisper from the center?
I always love good, thoughtFULL questions for me to stop and examine.
Grateful too for the men in my life who live this way.
Do you have these kind of men and friends? They are essential in war.






Sunday, May 25, 2008

21 Days to Father's Day

I cannot stop praying for the men and fathers of NPM.
I have been praying several things from 1 Peter.
The following list has come from my "power phrases" over the last few weeks.
I pray that the men and fathers would know...
  1. They are elected and chosen by God to obey. 1.1-2
  2. Inexpressible and glorious joy. 1.8
  3. There is suffering now with glory to follow. 1.11
  4. We do not serve ourselves but the generations to come.1.12
  5. To prepare our minds for action. 1.13-14
  6. We call on a Father in heaven.1.17
  7. That our Father is our Judge. 1.17
  8. To live as strangers on the earth. 1.17
  9. We have been redeemed from the empty way of life.1.18
  10. We have been purified to love.1.22
  11. We are all like grass that withers away. 1.24-25
  12. To rid ourselves of all malice and deceit. 2.1-3
  13. We are chosen, royal, holy and belonging to God. 2.9-10
  14. To live as strangers and abstain from sinful desires. 2.11
  15. To live good lives among outsiders. 2.12
  16. To entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly. 2.21-23
  17. That Jesus is the Overseer of our souls. 2.25
  18. To be considerate, respectful and prayerful men. 3.7
  19. To not repay evil for evil but to bless. 3.8-9
  20. To love life and see good days. 3.10-12
  21. To be full of HOPE. 3.15
  22. To keep a clear conscience. 3.16
  23. To live the rest of our earthly lives for God. 4.1-2
  24. That we will give an account of our lives. 4.5
  25. To use our gifts to serve others. 4.10
These are some of the things for which I am praying.
Will you join me over the next 21 days and pray?
I am excited to see what God will do in all of our hearts.




Saturday, May 24, 2008

13 Qualities of a "SHARP GUY"

Yesterday I met with a great young couple. She said her Dad was not much of a "Spiritual Leader". It took me back to a conversation in 1997, when my 15 year old niece Esther asked me if I knew any "SHARP GUYS"? I asked her if she even knew the definition of SHARP? I began to think through the things I would want to see in my life, my sons and every man I know. Do not get freaked with the idea that they all begin with "S". How would you answer the following questions?
1. Saved
• Do I have an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus? - Acts 4:13
• Am I assured of my salvation? - 1 John 5:13
• Do I serve the Lord with gladness? - Psalm 100:2; Romans 12:11
2. Separated – Set Apart.
• Have I dedicated my life to the Lord? - 2 Cor.5:14, 15
• Do I see myself set apart for God’s purposes? - 1 Cor.6:19,20
• Do I daily present myself as a living sacrifice? - Romans 12:1,2
3. Strong in the Lord
• What do I know about spiritual warfare? -2 Cor.2:11; Eph.6:11
• Do I know the whole armor of God - Eph.6:10-18
• Do I know how to resist the devil? - James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:6-11
4. Scriptural
• Am I a man of the Word? - II Tim. 3:14-17
• Do I diligently study and meditate on the Scriptures? - Psalm 1
• Do I know how to rightly divide the Scriptures? - II Tim. 2:15
5. Spiritual Gift
• Do I know and exercise my spiritual gift? - Romans 12; I Cor. 12
• Where am I using it?
• Do I appreciate other’s gifts?
6. Small Group
• Am I living in community with other believers? - Hebrews 10:25
• Do I have deep, open, honest, safe friendships? - I John 1:7
• Do I share and bear other’s burdens? - Galatians 6
7. Secure
• Do I know who I am and what I have in Christ? - Ephesians 1
• Have I thanked God for my design? - Psalm 139:14-18
• Have I accepted and given thanks for the unchangeables in my life?
8. Submissive
• Am I surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? - Phil.2:9-11
• Do I understand the purposes of authority? - Romans 13:1-7
• What kind of attitudes do you see? - 4 Required - Eph.6:1-3; 1 Peter 3:1-6
9. Sensitive
• Do I walk with a clear conscience before God and men? - Acts 24:16;
1 Tim.1:5,19; 2 Tim.1:3
• Do I honor, prefer, and esteem others more highly than myself? - Phil.2:3,4
• Do I really understand? - 1 Peter 3:7
10. Suffers Well
• Do I understand God’s purposes for suffering? - 1 Peter 4:1; Col.3:1,2
• Do I hold any anger, resentment or bitterness? - Eph.4:30-31
• Do I know how to forgive those who have offended me? - Eph.4:32
11. Stewardship
• Have I yielded my rights to the Lord? - Phil. 2:1-11
• Do I live as a steward? - I Cor. 6:19,20
• Do I model generosity and faithfulness? - II Cor. 9:1-18
12. Spirit Filled
• Do I know the Person and ministries of the Holy Spirit? - John 14:16-18
• Do I know what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit? - Eph.5:18-21
• Do I know how to walk in the Spirit? - Gal.5:16-22
13. Successful
• What is my view of success?
• How is it accomplished?
• Do I know how God measures success? - Psalm 1:1-3

I realize that a "Spiritual Leader" could also simply be described as "one who leads spiritually" or "one who walks with God" etc.
But I felt a little more description could be helpful.
What is your definition or description of a "Spiritual Leader"?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees - Matt. 16:6

I am intrigued by the word "leaven". Below is a description.
1. Appearing to be spiritual, but loving sensual pleasure (see Matthew 23:27).
2. Praising God with the mouth, but having a heart that is far from God (see Matthew 15:8).
3. Teaching man-made theology rather than God’s commands (see Matthew 15:9).
4. Doing good deeds for the purpose of being seen and praised by people (see Matthew 6:1).
5. Praying publicly to impress people (see Matthew 6:5).
6. Fasting with the motive of getting personal praise (see Matthew 6:16).
7. Focusing on religious traditions rather than God’s commands (see Mark 7:9).
8. Trying to correct others while having the same problem in ourselves (see Matthew 7:5).
9. Telling others what to do but not doing it ourselves (see Matthew 23:4).
10. Loving the praise of people more than the approval of God (see Luke 11:43).
11. Refusing to enter the kingdom of heaven and preventing others as well (see Matthew 23:13).
12. Taking advantage of others financially under the pretense of religion (see Matthew 23:14).
13. Expending great effort to make converts of their own system (see Matthew 23:15).
14. Emphasizing religious details while neglecting fundamental teachings (see Matthew 23:23).
I hope these things will NOT be in my life. You?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

He Suffered Well - 1 Peter 4.1

This morning I was reading 1 Pet. 4:1, "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin."
When I read these words, my Dad and his death came to my mind. My Dad suffered much and well all the way to the end. One of his favorite verses was 2 Tim.4.6, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing".
My Dad fought a good fight. He finished his course. He kept the faith even though he suffered much all the way to the end. This has left for me a very good example to follow.
Dad, thanks for the legacy and memory you have given to me to "Finish Well and Strong".
I love you forever for it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Hope I Have - 1 Peter 3.15

Today I read 1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..."
I got to thinking about HOPE. Why am I so hope-full? What is the source of my hope? Why don't I think or feel "hope-less"?
HOPE is defined as:
1. A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
2. Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God's gracious promises; a scriptural sense. A well founded scriptural hope,is, in our religion, the source of ineffable happiness.

So, I began to search the Scriptures and see the reason for my HOPE.
Heb. 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
1. I believe in God who is the God of hope. Rom. 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ in me, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
3. I believe in the glorious return of Christ. Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
4. I believe in the encouragement of the Scriptures. Rom. 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5. I believe in the hope of heaven. Col. 1:5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven...
6. I believe in the hope of eternal life. Titus 1:2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.
Just some of the reasons I am full of HOPE.
You? Are you hopeful or hopeless? Consider the above truths.

Love Life. See Good Days - 1 Peter 3.10-12

I have heard the statement, "He's lovin' life now." People want to love life and see good days. We don't want to hate life and see bad days, and we go about it in many different ways. 1 Peter 3.10 gives us some insight on how to love life and see good days...
“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11 He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer...”
1. Keep my tongue from evil
2. Keep my lips from deceitful speech
3. Turn from evil and do good
4. Seek peace and pursue it
As I look at this list, I am thankful that Christ in me is able to do all of this in and through me.
Are you lovin' life? Are you seeing good days? Allow the life of Christ to keep, turn, do and seek in and through you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Chapters of My Life-Deut.8.2

Deut.8.2 says, Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
I was thinking this morning about all the way that God has led and written my story. My life seems to have been written in 9 chapters so far.
1. 1954-1965 (0-11) Miami, FL
2. 1965-1972 (11-18) London, England
3. 1972-1976 (18-22) Florida Bible College
4. 1976-1979 (22-25) Reston, VA
5. 1979-1980 (25-26) Portland, OR
6. 1980-1985 (26-31) Orlando, FL in business
7. 1985-1992 (31-38) Circle Community Church
8. 1992-2001 (38-47) Reston Bible Church
9. 2001-2008 (47-54) North Point Community Church
What about you? How many chapters have been written in your life?
God is an amazing Author.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blessed Be Your Name

I love the following song. It has spoken to me on several occasions. It is so true that the Lord gives and takes away. My heart must choose to say, Blessed be Your Name. Debbie and I are in a season of plentiful, abundance, with the sun shining down on us, when all is as it should be. There may/will come a time of the desert or wilderness or the road marked with suffering. Will there be praise in the offering? We really hope so. We want our hearts to choose to trust the Lord and bless His Name. This is indeed walking by faith and not by sight.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Older Sister, Linda


My sister did a triathalon for Mother's Day. I am soooo proud of her. She wrote the following.

Today was a day of many emotions; anticipation, excitement, and fear were just a few. As I stood on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney and looked out to the green light in the distance, I wondered if I really was going to be able to make it. Was I really prepared? Would my body tighten up and not allow me to go the distance or would I be OK if I just took the hardest portion of the race in stride and relaxed and did my best? As I looked around at the ladies who stood next to me, I was deeply inspired. I was in the first wave to the lake. In my wave there were cancer survivors as well as women in my age category (55-59). We were all there because we believed in a cause greater than ourselves. We gave our time, energy, and resources over the last several months to train, and today was the day.
Though there were days I wondered if I could train, the picture I had of my precious friends doing life without their wives caused me to put away my own issues and get going. This event was way out of my comfort zone, but what I have gained this season will never be forgotten.
The relationship that I have enjoyed with my daughter Elisabeth as we trained has been incredible. The monthly time together with the Legacy Ladies has been deeply encouraging, and the tenderness and support that my husband and children have shown has been precious.
So as the day closes I say with Paul, “I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” and the prize was waiting when I crossed the finished line.
This event allowed me to accomplish something way outside of my comfort zone and now I will dedicate myself to encouraging others to look at training and participating in the event next year.
So as I close this story, I say, “Thank you, Tim Crebs! You and your precious children, Kaley, Kyle, and Chloe, have touched my life more than you may know. I know you miss your wife and your children's precious mother today, but know she has inspired me along with so many other women to do something we would never have even considered.”

My Mom - Prov.31.28


Today is Mother's Day. I have been blessed with the most incredible Mom. I do not know how many more days she has on the earth but I wanted to capture some of her qualities while she is still with us. The following words came quickly to mind.
Beautiful
Loves God and His Word deeply
Always there and available
Always positive and affirming
Organized
Serving others
Giving to others
Investing in others
Faithful and loyal
A good steward
Generous
Quilter
Creates beautiful environments
Gracious
Alive
Dignified
Honorable
Rewarded
Wise
A faithful journaler
Strong
Diligent
Early riser
Hard working
Prayerful
Welcoming
Loves her husband, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren
I think of this Scripture...Proverbs 31.28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
I love you Mom. I am a blessed son, man, husband, father and pastor because of you.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Beautiful Woman - 1 Peter 3.1-6


1Pet. 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
This is such a powerful passage and picture of beauty for women. What a challenge for a wife to be submissive to a husband who does not believe. I believe men can be won over by submission, purity, reverence, and a gentle and quiet spirit. When women put their hope in God and do not give way to fear, this is very attractive to men.
Of course it is my opinion that when a man loves and leads well, it is much easier for a woman to respond and follow.
Gents, how are you loving? How are you leading? Let's make it easy for our wives to respect and respond.

MC's Graduation Service

Yesterday we took time to celebrate the life of Michael Colwell. A young 31 year old man who went home to the Lord from cancer.
So many thoughts and feelings and Scriptures come to mind. My Dad use to say, "Think Scripture".
1. It's hard to believe he is gone. James 4:14...What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Psalm 13.16 - All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
1 Peter 1.24 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.”
2. Jen and the boys remain. He will bring beauty from ashes. He will be a Father to the Fatherless.
Psa. 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Is. 61:3 - ...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Eccles.3.11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
3. MC ran his race and finished well...2Tim. 4:6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
4. I saw many in deep thought at the service...Eccl. 7:1 A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. 2 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.
5. Andy comforted Jen from Mark 5:36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Such important words...do not be afraid...keep believing and trusting.
MC, thanks for the life you lived, the race you ran and the death you died. You have inspired all of us to finish well.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Overseer Of My Soul - 1 Peter 2.25

I just read 1 Peter 2.25, "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." I love this phrase and truth that Jesus is my Shepherd and Overseer of my soul. I need an Overseer of my soul. I was reminded in 1 Pet. 2:11... "to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul". I have seen how sinful desires can war against my soul and I need an Overseer. This made me think of all the places in Scriptures that talk of "MY SOUL".
Psa. 23:3 ...He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psa. 25:1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
Psa. 34:2 My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Psa. 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Psa. 42:11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psa. 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
Psa. 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
Psa. 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Psa. 103:1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits...
The songwriter wrote, "It is well with my soul."
How is it with your soul? Give thanks that we have an Overseer of our souls.

Monday, May 05, 2008

MC Goes Home - 1 Cor.15.54

Tonight we got the news that our friend and colleague, Michael Colwell, went home to be with the Lord. He was only 32 and left a wife and two little boys. At the news of his departure, I thought of several Scriptures.
1 Cor.15.54 "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”...57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I am soooooo grateful for the victory we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Cor. 5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
We will not understand this side of heaven why the Lord would take this fine man home, but we must walk by faith and not by sight. I know MC is dancing and rejoicing in the presence of His Savior. Pray for Jen, Kaleb and Noah as they adjust to life without their husband and dad.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A 40 Day Fast - May 6-June 14

On May 6, I begin a 40 day fast till June 14. I am doing this for several reasons. I was invited to speak at North Point Church on Father's Day, 06.15, and Browns Bridge Church on 06.22. I want to pay a lot of and extra attention to my relationship with the Lord and my prayers for the men and Father's in our church and around the world.
Over the next 40 days, I plan to...
Drink only water
Eat 4 small meals a day
Eat no sweets or chips
Swim every day
Do cardio and weights 3-4 x's a week
Fast weekly for 24 hours
Get 7-8 hours of rest
Take Multi/C/E & Juiceplus
I am hoping at the end of these 40 days to have a renewed walk with the Lord and a greater passion for men and fathers to be the men God has called us to be.
Want to join me? It's only 40 days.

Chosen. Royal. Holy. - 1 Peter 2.9-10

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
1. I am chosen.
2. I am royal.
3. I am holy.
4. I belong to God.
5. I declare His praises.
6. I am called out of darkness into His wonderful light.
7. I am now a "people of God".
8. I have received mercy.
As I read these great words and truths, my heart sings. No wonder we are told to think on these things. What do you think about? These truths and thoughts can change our lives.

5 Seasons in a Man's Life

I recently heard Dennis Rainey give this talk on "Steps to Godly Manhood". He identified 5.
1. Boyhood
2. Adolescence
3. Manhood
Rejects Passivity
Accepts Responsibility
Leads Courageously
Loves Sacrificially
4. Mentor
5. Patriarch
I am without question in the "Mentor" season of my life. I love it. I love helping the next generation of leaders become the men, husbands, fathers and servant leaders that God has called them to be. O that there would be more Mentors for young men. I look forward to the days and times of "Patriarch". I love the idea of being a Patriarch over all my family. This inspires me to be a leader worth following with deep and wide "moral authority". In what season are you?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Quotes From John Hambrick

1. "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook."-William James. I love this. It makes me think of Prov. 19:11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.