Monday, November 09, 2009

Three Questions to Ask After Every Event

I got these questions from Rick Clendenen, who got them from Dale Yearton.

After every event, get together with the event staff and discuss the following three questions:

  • What is the best that happened?
  • What is the worst that happened?
  • What can we do better?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Worship Set for 8/30/09

What a privilege it was to minister at Cornerstone in Bedford/Judah yesterday! I am especially honored that Pastor Reynolds trusts me to minister while he's away.

I am sure some of the songs I led were new to the congregation, but I still felt God's presence as we united our voices in praise.

A.M. Worship set:
Offering: Come and Go With Me
Friend of God (Gungor/Houghton)
Mighty Is Our God (Greco/Moen)
Let Everything That Hath Breath (Gary Oliver)
We Fall Down (Chris Tomlin)
Word of God Speak (MercyMe)

P.M. Worship set:
We've Come to Praise Him (Richard Smallwood)
Jesus I'll Never Forget
Look What the Lord Has Done
Nothing's Too Big for My God (Nancy Harmon)
Bless the Lord (Hall/Jarnagin/Sasser)
I Need Thee (Robert Lowry)
Offering: More Than Enough (Gary Oliver)

In the evening service, I got to preach as well. As usual, my message had no title, but I did my best to convey the four (!) statements God wanted me to deliver:

  1. God's Promises are True.
    But to cash in on the Word, we need to know the Word, keep the Word, and obey the Word.
    References: Jn 14:23, Luke 4:18-19 (a word we can claim since we're part of Christ's body, Luke 8 (parable of the sower)
  2. We Need the Holy Ghost
    One reason: To remind us of the Word
    Reference: Jn 14:26
  3. We Need Permanency (in God)
    We need to quit playing around and make up our minds we're sticking with God.
    Reference: Jn 15:7
  4. We Need to Delight in God
    If lack of desire (to live for God) is a problem, we need to delight in God so that He can place new desires in our heart.
    Reference: Ps 37:4

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Seven Categories of Revelation

David Cartledge, in The Apostolic Revolution,lists seven categories of revelation:

  1. Reiteration or Re-ephasis of the Bible
  2. Concepts that Parallel God's Written Word
  3. Non-Biblical Ideas that Do Not Contradict It
  4. Revelations that Contradict the Bible
  5. Prophetic Direction and Confirmations
  6. Supernatural Demonstrations and Signs
  7. Nonsense
Over the past 25 years I've been a Pentecostal Christian, I've heard a number of "prophecies", either via interpretation of tongues or through direct speech. Some came to pass. Others did not. Some are still pending.

Cartledge's categories nicely cover the gamut of prophecies I've heard.

Reiteration or Re-ephasis of the Bible
This sort is fairly common, in my opinion. Interpretations or prophecies are often direct quotes from scripture as in "Thus saith the Lord, I am the Lord that healeth thee." (from Ex 15:26).

For what it's worth, I'm always a little amused that most interpreters of tongues deliver their interpretations in King James English. I may be wrong, but I feel like God possibly impressed a concept on the speaker's mind which the speaker then delivered using King James English. I know when God speaks directly to me, it's always in short phrases of contemporary English: "Sit down", "Pray for ____", etc. He has never said, "Sit thou down" (but He probably will now that I've posted this.)

Concepts that Parallel God's Written Word
This sort of revelation delivers a Biblical concept, but one that won't be found word-for-word in Scripture. For example, "God wants you to forgive your brother."

Non-Biblical Ideas that Do Not Contradict It
This sort of revelation isn't found in the Bible at all, but it does not contradict the Bible. Examples could be: "God wants us to hold a revival." or "God wants you to give your car to a missionary."

Revelations that Contradict the Bible
There are some who claim to have received supernatural revelation that is absolutely contradictory to what's written in the Bible.

Some have determined that they married the wrong person and that God wants them to divorce their spouse and marry another -- even though God said in Malachi 2:16 (NIV) "I hate divorce".

The Mormons claim the revelation that the regular Bible was meant for Jews and that the Book of Mormon is the Bible meant for Americans, even though the regular Bible describes its own law as the "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25) and says it "is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim 3:16-17). Our own Bible is sufficient for both Jew and non-Jew to be made perfect. We don't need another book.

Some oneness Pentecostals have said that oneness doctrine must be understood by revelation, that it can't be understood simply by reading scripture -- even though Paul said scripture was profitable for doctrine (2 Tim 3:16) and James described our law as "perfect" (James 1:25).

Note: Any revelation that contradicts the Bible is a false revelation!

Our Scripture is "given by inspiration of God". It was recorded as "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost". Our Scripture is a trustworthy record of God's will and word, and God himself will never contradict it. "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom 3:4).

Prophetic Direction and Confirmations
This sort of revelation would lay out or confirm a direction for ministry.

Sometimes the word may come early -- many years before its fulfillment. Therefore, I do not recommend making big immediate changes just because you received such a word. Make sure the Holy Ghost bears witness. Seek the advise of an elder. Cover decisions and actions with prayer. Discern whether God said "do it now" or if He said, "you're going to do this sometime".

Sometimes the revelation comes to confirm things God has already spoken to you.

Supernatural Demonstrations and Signs
This sort of revelation is absolutely supernatural and borders on the miraculous.

It could be a prophetic word saying "God says He heard your prayer this morning when you said ____". Such a word would be delivered by someone who had no way of knowing what had happened.

It could also be a prophetic word saying, "tomorrow, such and such will happen." Again, the speaker would have no way of knowing what would happen.

This sort of revelation could also come through dreams that reveal information or events that either have not yet occurred or that already occurred, but you did not witness.

Unfortunately, I think much contemporary "revelation" falls into this category. Too many people "feel" things that God had nothing to do with. Too many people say things that God didn't tell them to say.

Even prophets with genuine gifts sometimes feel so compelled to deliver a "word" that they can blur the line between what God actually said and what they felt like God might have wanted to say. Take Nathan, for example. When David wanted to build a temple, Nathan first said, "Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee" (2 Sam 7:3), but later that night, God told Nathan otherwise.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ho Hum! Could an unruly crowd improve a speech?

The trouble with speaking to a well-behaved crowd is that you can never be certain if the folks are tuned in or not. Common courtesy mandates that they at least look like they're tuned in -- even if they're mentally elsewhere.

A fellow named Richard C. Borden developed a speech methodology where you imagine you're speaking to an unruly crowd.

The moment you step to the dias, this imaginary crowd yells out, "Ho hum!" Borden recommends you start a fire. That is, you say something that invokes curiousity or grabs attention.

Next, the crowd yells out, "Why bring that up?!?" Borden says to build a bridge -- relate the opening sentence to the folks in the crowd.

The crowd then yells out, "For instance?!?" Borden advises to get down to cases -- provide examples and/or tell stories, preferably ones that are simple, unexpected, credible, concrete, and emotional (read Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Dieby Chip and Dan Heath for more info on stories like these).

Finally, the crowd yells out, "So what?!?" This is the time to ask for action. Determine beforehand what you want the audience to do, then ask for it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The 10 Commandments, in TXT Spk

I found this on Fast Company's site, but they'd reposted it from a group named McSweeney's.

  1. no1 b4 me. srsly.

  2. dnt wrshp pix/idols

  3. no omg's

  4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)

  5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool

  6. dnt kill ppl

  7. :-X only w/ m8

  8. dnt steal

  9. dnt lie re: bf

  10. dnt ogle ur bf's m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.
M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Last Lot

I've often thought casting lots would be the perfect replacement for modern church elections - just toss the names in a hat and pick one.

And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:26, KJV)
I just recently realized, however, that this method was only used before the Holy Ghost was given. You never again see anything regarding lots after Acts 2.

In place of lots, you find the Holy Ghost leading and guiding.

Jesus said the Holy Ghost would do so:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)
The Holy Ghost was involved in Saul/Paul and Barnabas's appointment:
1Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4)
The Holy Ghost led the way in resolving the circumcision conflict in Acts 15:
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; (Acts 15:28)
I wonder why we depend so much on elections nowadays?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Faith in Suffering Than In Blessing

Here's some food for thought from David Cartledge's book The Apostolic Revolution:

The reason why much preaching is negative is because the preachers themselves have no confidence in God or His promises. They cannot conceive that God would bless His people, and actually have more faith in suffering and limitation than in victory and freedom. Because of this, they often oppose the idea that God delights to prosper His people in their spirit, soul, body and social areas.
I asked my wise wife why she thought this was so. Her answer: It doesn't require faith at all to believe in suffering or limitation, because faith is the substance of things hoped for.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Humility vs. Stagefright

In his book, Playing from the Second Chair, Rick Clendenen states:

Humility is not thinking less of ourselves; it is simply thinking of ourselves less. It is putting the needs of others above our own.
Somehow I managed to mash together the above in my mind. For several days, I went about reminding myself that "Humility is not thinking less of ourselves; it is thinking more of others."

I once heard someone say that stagefright is a form of pride. We mask it as fear of speaking, but it's really a fear of failing in front of others. Our focus is on us - not on the ones who need our messsage.

Humility, remember, focuses more on others.

I remember the first time I taught at a district event. About a hundred people from a dozen or so churches were gathered, and I was starting to get nervous. I then remembered two things:
  • Stagefright is a form of pride.
  • The message is key - the message matters more than my own discomfort.
I recited 1 Thess 5:24 under my breath (Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.) Reminding myself that the message is key, I focused and delivered it with confidence.

I find it interesting that by focusing on others instead of myself, my nerves calmed and my confidence increased.

I humbled myself in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord lifted me up (see James 4:10). I did not demean myself - I just focused on others. The Lord lifted me by giving me confidence and anointing to deliver the message.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Judging Prophecy

Paul told the Corinthians to "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. (1 Cor 14:29)," but I've always wondered how to do that.

How can one prophet judge another's prophecy without hurting their feelings or undermining their authority?

I gained insight through a story David Cartledge included in his book The Apostolic Revolution. Cartledge repeated a story originally told by Barney Coombs:

"I was sitting with a group of men in a council meeting. The evangelist with us brought a word of prophecy. The prophet turned to me and said, 'Barney, are we allowed to judge that prophecy?' Now we were like family around this table but you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. I said, 'Be my guest.' He said, 'I don't think it was from God.' I turned to another man who is wise and also a prophet and said, 'John, what do you feel?' 'No,' he said, 'I don't think it was from God.' Then the man who was in charge of the business and also prophetic said, 'The prophecy we have heard is not from God, but the Spirit says that so and so did not share all he saw, and when he shares all he saw, it will be from God.' I felt goosebumps up and down my spine! I turned to the evangelist and said, 'Is that true?' And he said, 'Yes.' When he shared all that he had seen, all the men said, 'This is from God.' It changed everything."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Who to Shun, Teach, Awaken, or Follow

I saw the following on a cubible wall at work:

He who knows not and knows not he knows not...
He is a fool. Shun Him.

He who knows not and knows he knows not...
He is simple. Teach Him.

He who knows and knows not he knows...
He is asleep. Awaken Him.

He who knows and knows he knows...
He is wise. Follow Him.

I like these classifications. I like that you can break it into 4 quadrants based on one's self-awareness and actual knowledge:

Teach him
Follow him
Shun him
Teach him

I disagree that we should always shun those who are ignorant about how ignorant they are -- how else would you ever teach a child?

We also need to be careful any time we think we know something, because whether we really know it or not, we still think we know it. Perhaps that's why Solomon said that a fool tells everything he knows, but a wise man keeps it in till afterward. (Prov 29:11)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thoughts on Sermon Failure

If we fail to reach our audience, we have failed.

If we fail to engage our audience, we have failed.

If we fail to connect to our audience, we have failed.

I know that God's word does not go out void, but we're not God. If we fail to reach, engage, and connect to our audience, we have failed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

When the Church is Right and Tight

I love the way Ephesians 4:16 describes a church that has it all together.

Such a church is:

  • United ("the whole body fitly joined together and compacted")
  • Effective ("the effectual working")
  • Growing ("maketh increase of the body")
Every member contributes:
  • To the Unity ("by that which every joint supplieth")
  • To the Work ("working in the measure of every part")
  • To the Growth ("unto the edifying of itself in love")

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wicca in Lebanon, Indiana

While thumbing through the January issue Indianapolis Monthly, I came across the following snippet in the article Airball Awards:

Katherine Gunther, 36, and a few of her Wiccan friends had gathered at Lebanon's Oak Hill Cemetery one full moon in July for a "good luck" ritual. But her fortunes took a turn south when, at the point of the ceremony where she was supposed to plunge a three-foot-long sword into the ground, she instead pierced her foot. Gunther spent a few days in Witham Memorial Hospital recovering from her sudden bout of bad karma.
I've always heard rumors of witchcraft being practiced in our towns, but I've never seen anything about it printed in the press -- until now.

I'd like to say that this incident happened at the same exact time the Holy Ghost began to move at a worship service in one of our PCG churches in Lebanon. I can't.

I can say, however, this is proof that our enemies are praying. Are we praying too?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

We Will Stand Alone

On judgement day, we won't be able to call up witnesses on our behalf.

The church board will not be able to say how well we cooperated. Our congregations will not be permitted to tell how enjoyable our sermons were. Our kids will not be allowed to share fond memories of their childhoods.

Many people on this earth will have an opinion on whether our job was "well done," but only one opinion will matter -- that of our Father. As long as He can say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant," it will not matter what anyone else thinks. If the Father were to say, "Depart from me, I never knew you," it still wouldn't matter what anyone else thought.

I wonder, who are you trying to please?

Why does it matter so much what other people think?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Whose Wisdom Do You Seek?

God once commented to Jeremiah concerning Israel's pastors:

The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered. - Jeremiah 10:21
Seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Nowadays, instead of asking what God would have them do, many pastors ask how Rick Warren did it, or Bill Hybels, or Steve Sjogren, or Joel Osteen, or ....

Sometimes pastors tap secular resources such as Seth Godin, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, or Malcolm Gladwell. Some have even gone so far as to study Mohammad or the Dalai Lama.

I've heard some say that all truth is God's truth. I cannot argue that point -- truth is truth.

The trouble is not the truth, but the wisdom. Not all wisdom is God's wisdom. The Bible lists many sorts of wisdom -- wisdom of words, wisdom of the wise, wisdom of this world, man's wisdom, and earthly, sensual wisdom. In contrast, the Bible describes the manifold wisdom of God.

I read most everything Seth Godin writes, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I appreciate the challenge he sets forth to be better than average, to try to do more than just get by, but when it comes to decisions, Seth can't make them for me. I cannot ask myself which option Seth would prefer. There is only one voice that matters -- God's voice.

I wonder what would happen if our churches started investing as much time, money, and energy into seeking God's direction as they do attending seminars, reading books, and scouring the internet?

Perhaps this would happen:
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. - Jeremiah 33:3
or this:
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. - Psalm 2:8

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When My Likes Interfere With Evangelism

In this article, Earl Creps discusses what we risk by focusing on the

  • production values,
  • branded sermon series, and
  • studio quality worship music
that we need to attract the kind of Christians who can supply our financial base. In particular, we risk having newcomers in our church.

Personally, I like well-produced services. I like branded sermon series. I like studio-quality worship music.

I like what I like, and I pretty much do church the way I like to do church. As a pastor, I led the services the way I liked to lead them. As a layman, I enjoy services that are led the same way.

The trouble is, these services are customized to me. They attract people just like me -- white, middle-classers who have been saved 20+ years.

To get somebody different, I have to do things I don't like as much, but that's OK.

What sort of things?
  • Explaining what the offering is and why we're doing it.

  • Explaining why one person stood up and said "Shondai, shondai" and then someone else stood up and said, "Thus saith the Lord..."

  • Explaining what communion is and why we're doing it.

  • Preaching about David and Goliath instead of Abishai or Jabez.

  • Sticking to the pre-set worship list because there's no powerpoint slide for the old song that just popped into my mind.

Monday, February 09, 2009

They Won't Listen if You're Not Interesting

Every now and then I come across a snippet that wows me. Here's one I just read:

The truth isn't the truth until people believe you...
And they can't believe you if they don't know what you're saying...
And they can't know what you're saying if they don't listen to you...
And they won't listen to you if you're not interesting...
And you won't be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.
- William Bernbach, Advertising Guru
Reminds me a little of Paul's words in Romans 10.

Thank you, Idea Sandbox, for bringing this to my attention.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In a Rut?

I speculate that most churches do church the same way today that they did a year or more ago -- tailored to the people in the pews, striving to keep them showing up and paying up without too much speaking up.

If you want to know where your church will be two years from now, ask yourself where it was two years ago. If nothing's changed, chances are good that nothing will change.