Monday, December 24, 2007

Over the Top Drummer Boy

When I was a kid, I think I wore out the Little Drummer Boy track on one of my mom's Christmas LPs. It was my favorite song back then, but 30+ years have passed, and I've heard too many versions of the same old Rum-pa-pa-pum.

Then I find a RagaMuffinSoul blog entry hyping a version they were doing at Buckhead, based on a version LifeChurch had done a year earlier.


I like the song all over again.

Check it out on RagaMuffinSoul.

(I wanted to embed it myself, but Blogger won't let me embed javascript in Blog bodies).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What if Burger King Ditched the Whopper?

I enjoyed the following, even laughed out loud once or twice:

Did you see how people reacted? Did you see the disbelief, the anger?

Did you understand their reaction? After all, what is a Burger King without a Whopper? (Even though I don't eat Whoppers, I can empathize with those that do.)

We see the same stuff in church sometimes.

People think:

  • What is worship without hymns, or song books, or ...?
  • What is Sunday School without prayer requests, or flannel graphs, or ...?
  • What is church without stained glass, a pipe organ, or back-breaking wooden pews?
Is it OK for them to think that way? Sure! Why wouldn't it be? If it's OK to be disturbed over a Whopper, it should be OK for other things, even church stuff.

This doesn't mean church leaders have to pander to every attendee's whim, but leaders should respect, even understand, their emotions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Quote on Knowing Your Calling

In those times when we stumble for our footing in the awful swellings of the Jordan, and the Evil One whispers in our ear, "Why did you ever decide to be a preacher anyway?" the right answer can only be, "Cause I was called, you fool!"
-- Dr. Timothy George

Monday, September 03, 2007

ACTS Prayer Method

If you have trouble knowing what to pray, or how to pray, may I suggest the ACTS method? ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Adoration. Start your prayer by worshiping God. Praise Him for who He is. Recognize Him as holy, almighty, gracious...

Confession. Admit sins you've committed since the last time you prayed. Ask God for forgiveness. Also confess sins of omission -- opportunities for good that you neglected.

Thanksgiving. Thank God for previous answers to prayers and for His continuing goodness.

Supplication. Plead with God both for others and for yourself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Three Benefits of Honoring a Sabbath

I think these blessings from Isaiah 58:14 apply if you take one day each week to rest and to honor God:

  1. You will delight yourself in the Lord.
  2. God will make you ride on the high places of the earth.
  3. God will feed you with the heritage of Jacob.
I personally don't think it matters whether that day be Saturday, Sunday, or some other day, but I do think the Sabbath was created to allow man time to rest his body and refresh his spirit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Email Is Down. What Do I Do?

My email has been down for the past sixteen hours. Not my "home" email -- I use Google's gmail at home, and I am well pleased with it -- but my "work" email. At work, I use MS Outlook which talks to MS Exchange Server handling thousands of users.

When the email is working, I use it as my to-do list. I read through the emails, starting with the most recent, and either respond or let the email sit in the in-box as a reminder to do a task. After responding where needed, I work on the tasks that remain.

But what happens if the email is down? Then I work on the projects I remember. I continue acting on the last instructions I received.

I do the same thing with knee-mail. Sometimes, I have difficulty "connecting" with God. I go through spells where I don't receive any fresh insight or direction. What do I do? I continue to do what I remember. I continue acting on the last instruction I received.

Sometimes we needlessly wonder what God wants us to do now, when all we need to do is keep doing what He already told us.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

22 Blessings of Fasting in Joel 2

  1. God will send corn, oil, and wine (v. 19)
  2. You will be satisfied.
  3. You will no longer be a reproach among the heathens.
  4. God will remove far off from you the northern army and destroy it (v. 20).
  5. The pastures of your wilderness will spring up (v. 22).
  6. Your tree will bear fruit.
  7. Your fig tree and vine will yield their strength.
  8. God will cause the former and latter rains to fall (v. 23).
  9. Your threshing floors will be full of grain (v. 24).
  10. Your vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
  11. God will restore the years that the locust has eaten (v. 25).
  12. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied (v. 26).
  13. God will deal wondrously with you.
  14. You will never be put to shame.
  15. You will know that God is in the midst of you (v. 27).
  16. You will know that God is your God, and none else.
  17. You will never be ashamed.
  18. God will pour out His Spirit (v. 28).
  19. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
  20. Your old men shall dream dreams.
  21. Your young men shall see visions.
  22. Even your servants will get drenched with God's Spirit (v. 29).

26 Blessings of Fasting in Isaiah 58

  1. You will loose the bands of wickedness (v. 6).
  2. You will undo the heavy burdens
  3. You will undo the bands of the yoke.
  4. You will let the oppressed go free.
  5. You will break every [enslaving] yoke.
  6. You will be able to divide your bread with the hungry (v. 7).
  7. You will be able to bring the homeless poor into your house.
  8. You will be able to clothe the naked.
  9. You will not have to hide from your own flesh and blood.
  10. Your light [righteousness? testimony?] shall break forth like morning (v. 8).
  11. Your healing [also restoration and salvation] shall spring forth speedily.
  12. Your righteousness shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity].
  13. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard, shall gather you up.
  14. You shall call, and the Lord will answer (v. 9).
  15. You shall cry, and He will say, Here I am.
  16. Your light shall rise in darkness (v. 10) [This blessing and the following appear to come if one gives their own food money to the poor].
  17. Your darkness [sinful life? darkness of soul? obscurity? gloom?] will become like the noon day.
  18. The Lord shall guide you continually (v. 11).
  19. The Lord shall satisfy you in drought and dry places.
  20. The Lord shall strengthen and fatten your bones.
  21. You will be like a watered garden.
  22. You will be like a spring of water whose waters never stop.
  23. They of you [children? congregation? staff?] shall rebuild your ancient ruins (v. 12).
  24. You will raise up the foundations of many generations.
  25. You will be called "The Repairer of the Breach."
  26. You will be called "The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In."

The Five E's of Evidence

I saw Lee Strobel on TV recently talking about the evidence that transformed him from an atheist to a believer of the the gospel. He listed five E's: Execution, Early Accounts, Empty Tomb, Eye Witnesses, Emergence of the Church.

  1. Execution
    Christ died by crucifixion. The Roman guards testified that Christ had died. Christ was buried under Roman guard.
  2. Early Accounts
    Myths take time to develop -many, many years or even decades. But the news of Christ's resurrection spread within months.
  3. Empty Tomb
    Today, 2000 years after the event, the empty tomb doesn't mean much, but at the time, it stood as a strong witness that Christ had indeed risen.
  4. Eye Witnesses
    Jesus appeared to over 500 different people post-resurrection. Many myths involve "someone" who heard or who saw, but the resurrection account names names -- Mary, Peter, Paul, and others who encountered Christ personally.
  5. Emergence of the Church
    What else would account for the rapid growth of the church at that time? What besides the fact that Christ had arisen and everyone knew it? Some say the disciples duped the people, but those same disciples died defending the very truth they preached -- that Jesus Christ was alive.

Thoughts from Bishop Francisco Montefusco.

I was blessed to hear Bishop Francisco Montefusco preach at the World Missions service of the Pentecostal Church of God's General Convention.

Bishop Montefusco's text:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. - Genesis 1:28
  • Everything God created multiplies. Birds, Fish, Trees, and Men all multiply. Christians should multiply.
  • A young Brazilian approached Bishop Montefusco and said, "I want to pastor." Bishop Montefusco replied, "Where are your sheep?"
  • Brazilians are expected to multiply in their local church before going out.
  • Even church musicians are expected to have their own disciples.
Bishop Francisco Montefusco is the national bishop of the Pentecostal Church of God in Brazil.

Thoughts from Bishop J. W. Macklin

I was privileged to hear Bishop J.W. Macklin of the Church of God in Christ preach at the Sunday Morning service of the Pentecostal Church of God's General Convention. I thought I'd share some tidbits.

  • Macklin's father once advised a group of aspiring preachers, "Stop trying to preach things nobody else has preached - if nobody else has preached it, there's probably a reason."
  • Nothing changes until something changes.
  • Rubber bands are useless until put under tension.
  • Be careful that you don't pass your church on the way to your church.
  • We cannot influence the world around us if we insulate ourselves from the world around us.
  • Stop allowing what-your-church-has to dictate what your church does.
  • The size of a church is not square feet nor attendance, but vision.
  • Four Things We Must Do:
    1. Receive the Power
    2. Walk the Walk
    3. Speak the Word
    4. Expect the Unexpected

Friday, April 20, 2007

First Church of Lake Wobegon

There's a little bit of Lake Wobegon in every church.

According to Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon is a place where:

  • all the women are strong,
  • all the men are good-looking, and
  • all the children are above average.
And church people will tell you:
  • Their pastor preaches better than average.
  • Their teachers teach better than average.
  • Their people love more than most.
What if we strove to become what we already imagine we are?

What if we strove to preach better, teach better, and love better?

Perhaps then we wouldn't have to say we're above average - it'd be obvious from our results!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Work on Strengths or Weaknesses?

I am a half-way decent musician, having played piano and bass for nearly twenty years. I also know a little about carpentry, from helping my grandpa roof houses for a few summers.

I am a better musician than I am a carpenter.

Now say I have a choice of two books to read. One is on music theory. The other is on carpentry. I have to read one or the other. Which do I choose?

Do I choose carpentry, because my carpentry skills are weaker?

Not if I want to become remarkable.

If all I do is work on my weaknesses, then eventually I will become average at everything.

But if I take time to hone my strengths, then my strengths will move from "half-way decent" to "pretty good" and then, perhaps, to "downright awesome".

If you're wondering what this has to do with disciplemaking, let me explain.

You, as a preacher or teacher, will choose which books you want to read this year, which conferences you want to attend, or which video curriculum to watch. If you're given a choice between communications skills and, say, end-time prophecy, which do you choose?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Put a TIGER in Your Classroom

Josh Hunt has an excellent method for doubling classes, which he teaches using the TIGER acronym:

Teach a halfway decent lesson each and every week; nothing less will do.

Invite every prospect to every fellowship every month.

Give Friday nights to Jesus.

Encourage members to ministry.

Reproduce new groups.

You can learn more by watching his videos or reading his book.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lesson from a Ketchup Bottle

I'm a reader. If I don't have a book, I'll read whatever is handy.

I read a ketchup bottle once. It said:

To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.
- Henry John Heinz
Teaching is one of those "common things".

Churches across the world meet every Sunday, and most of those churches have multiple teachers. There's a lot of teaching going on in this world, and most of it is common.

Note that "common" does not mean "bad". It just means "common," akin to "typical" or "average". Fortunately, we also get average results.

I am eager, however, for the next step -- better than common teaching that brings better than common results.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Teaching Ability Predicts Class Growth

Josh Hunt says, "The #1 predictor of the growth of any church is the preaching ability of the pastor. The #1 predictor of the growth of any class is the teaching ability of the teacher."

The better we teach, the more we reach.

I don't know about you, but I'm striving to preach better, to teach better.

Some say I'm already a good teacher, and I may be. Or, I may be just as good as most, which is another way of saying "average".

I know I can be better, which is why I'm reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

My goal: To be an awesome teacher with awesome reach.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jesus was Famous!

2000 years ago, Jesus was an A-list celebrity. Time and again, the gospels mention his fame.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
- Luke 4:14
His fame started in a region.
And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
- Luke 4:37
Then it went through the whole country.
But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.
- Luke 5:15
And it kept building as time went on.

What happened?

Has the church grown so accustomed to his blessings, his grace, his power, and his wonder that we've forgotten just how wonderful Jesus is?

Lord Jesus, let our hearts burn within us. May we never forget just how famous you are!

Monday, April 09, 2007

What is Remarkable?

Seth Godin defines remarkable better than anyone, including Webster... remarkable means people are going to make a remark.

Here's a snippet from his post How to be remarkable:

Remarkable doesn't mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it? If not, then you're average, and average is for losers.
This applies to churches, classes, preachers, teachers, and even members. Folks don't "go into the highways and byways and compel them" when their church, class, preacher, or teacher is average.

If people remark, then the church is remarkable. If not, it's average.

Somebody, somewhere may be thinking, "I need to tell my people to start remarking."


Understand that people naturally remark about the truly remarkable.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

If Their House is on Fire

If we see our neighbor's house on fire, we:

  • Call 911
  • Knock on the door to alert them
  • Knock on windows to alert them
And if we know they're home but not hearing us, we become more desperate in our actions:
  • Call 911 again, with more urgency in our voice
  • Break down a door
  • Break through a window
  • Use a bullhorn if we had one
If they answer the door, but don't believe us, we would:
  • Plead
  • Cry
  • Drag them outside and show them the fire
We know this. We understand it. And we would do it.

Yet, most of our neighbors live in danger of hell fire every day.

And most Christians do nothing about it.


Extra credit: Read what God told Ezekiel about warning your neighbors. Ezekiel 33:7-9