Jan 292009
 

My friend Brian Peart wrote a great devotional last month that he sends to people in his business community that speaks VOLUMES to the current circumstances many people face in these uncertain times.  Read it, enjoy it, APPLY it!  God is trustworthy.  You can reach Brian at nexusfinance @ mindspring.com

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
 
I looked up the word “evidence” in my concordance and it only appears one time in the New Testament-right here in this verse.  The word ‘faith’ however, appears hundreds of times.  Seems to me, God is more concerned with our faith than in proving himself with petty evidences.  Sure, we asked Jesus into our hearts and we TRULY believe in Him for salvation-but do we have faith enough to trust God with our every day walk?  Over the last few months it has become clear to me that very few people actually live out their faith when faced with bad circumstances.  We are a culture obsessed with immediate gratification and when we don’t get it, we immediately assume something is wrong.
 
When faced with tough financial times, for example, the first thing many Christians do is assume something is wrong.  Either they think that God is trying to tell them to do something else, or worse, they start judging God’s character based on their circumstances.  Something like this, “I tithe, I am good guy, why are you doing this to me God?”  I know I felt that after the hurricane destroyed my West Palm office.  As if God is in Heaven with some voodoo doll of us sticking pins in us just to spite us.  Ridiculous.  Listen, we are human.  When things don’t go our way it is easy in the moment to think these thoughts.  But what matters is the next moment.  Do you dwell on the woe is me thought or do you go back to the Word and cling to Romans 8:28 knowing deep down that He will work good from it.  Faith is clinging to the truth of God’s Word DESPITE the circumstances.  When Paul got thrown in prison for preaching the word-did he sulk and start questioning God’s Will for his life?  Did he decide to change his career?  No, he rejoiced that God allowed him to suffer for Jesus.  Wow.
 
God says in Romans 8:37 that we are “more than conquerors through Christ Jesus”-but maybe you don’t feel like a conqueror today.  What do you do in that situation?  Do you sulk, question and doubt or do you put your faith in the Word and move boldly forward as a conqueror trusting in Jesus to be true.  Faith is trusting in the Word DESPITE the circumstances.  So often we make rash decisions, change our careers, spouse, where we live, based solely on the fact that things are not going the way we think they should and so we assume something must be wrong.  We did not get immediate gratification, the circumstances do not mesh with the Word, so something is wrong.  NO!  The Word will ALWAYS come true-but God is not in a hurry.  It does sometimes take time.  I am accused of being an eternal optimist.  I have had visions of a life that I believe God is moving me towards and through all the highs and all the lows of my life, I never wavered in my trust that “God was going to work all things for good” for me as He said in His Scripture.  It rarely works out like I think it will and people closest to me take many things I say with a grain of salt because for so many years, things did not work out as good as I expected.  Only in hindsight can I see that God was working the whole time molding and making me ready for those big visions to play out.  He was there the whole time even in the darkest hour.
 
Despite your circumstances, God is faithful.  He can be trusted.  Faith is believing the high call of Christ despite circumstances, not waffling, not hedging, fully engaged and if things are not going your way-you don’t doubt, you hold fast to the Word and eventually, when you do, God does work it out.  He IS faithful. You CAN trust His Word and just because things are not going your way and you don’t understand things does not mean anything is wrong.  You just aren’t ready yet for the vision to become reality.  Oh, what if we could rise up and cling to the powerful words of Christ and truly live out our faith in the face of a world full of doubt.  That is my hope for you and for me… that is what the world needs now, warriors for Christ boldly professing Scripture in the face of an uncertain world!
 
Be blessed!
 
Brian

 Posted by at 2:20 pm
Jan 282009
 

Here is a post from Joseph Sangl, a guy who provides wisdom for handling finances.  You can check his site here for mucho financial wisdom.  Check this post for a great personal story on how to save on groceries using coupons. 

When I teach the Financial Learning Experience, I always take some time to have everyone write down the reasons why they want to be financially successful.  I believe that when people know WHY they are sacrificing financially, it helps them stick to their plan.

Do you know what the number one reason is?

LESS STRESS!

Nearly everyone in the room has written down that one of the reasons they want financial success is to have less stress in their life!

Is that you?  If it is, I want you to know that you CAN reduce the stress related to your finances!  You CAN!

Here is a short list of items that removed a ton of financial stress from my life: 

  • A written spending plan every month before the month begins.  It is truly EZ to win with money!
  • Stopped acquiring more debt
  • An emergency fund of at least $2,500
  • A wife that chooses to work together with me to manage our money
  • Paid off all debt except the house
  • Prayer
  • Realizing what “enough” was
  • Answering God’s call on my life (you can watch me share my journey HERE)

What has helped you eliminate financial stress in your life?

 Posted by at 11:26 pm
Jan 262009
 

Big Idea: 
Delight yourself in the Lord, wisely pursue your passions and God promises to deliver the desires of your heart.

Scripture Memory:
Psalms 37:4 (NIV)
4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Action Step:
Resist making God’s will a “mechanical” process, resist the “spiritual paranoia” this week and focus on your relationship with God as you delight in Him.

Random Thoughts:

  • WOW! is all I can say…….what a Sunday and what a weekend!
  • The weekend began great as we had 17 people join Friday night in our C-3 membership class.  I loved hanging out with some sharp and sweet people Friday night. 
  • My oldest son Josiah turned 11 years old on Saturday and we simply went over to my brother’s house and Josiah and his cousin Jeb, along with some other boys, played in the woods for a couple of hours and they had a blast.  Here’s the lesson:  Throw some adolescent boys in the woods, give them a simple weapon and they know how to have fun!
  • I can’t believe my son is eleven years old!  Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight you your heart.”  I don’t know about giving me rest, but Josiah is certainly a delight to my heart!  Time flies as your children grow!
  • I can’t explain the anticipation that I have every Saturday evening, but this past Saturday was off the chart!  I don’t usually sleep much on Saturday’s because I am so excited and anxious about Sunday morning.  Yesterday did not disappoint!  We had an incredible day!
  • We had one of the highest attendance Sundays yesterday, outside of Easter or other special Sundays.  It was awesome to see many guests and especially to see people returning consistently! 
  • Our children’s areas were packed!  We have to be thinking of how to create some more space or add some additional areas.  Its a lot to think about but it is exciting!
  • I am so proud of our people and their faithfulness and generosity in giving!
  • Last night I went to see Angie Cheek’s dad, David Gilliland.  He is in the hospital but recovering.  I had a blast talking and sharing with him.  We both went to the same seminary and he has so much experience and wisdom in ministry.  I went to be an encouragement to him and I am the one that left being encouraged.  He shared a lot of wisdom with me about ministry.
  • We began our new “Come As You Were”series this coming Sunday.  It is going to be a blast and our focus on the teaching should be challenging.  I think everyone will love it.  The first ten people that walk up to me to show me something they are wearing that is “70’s” retro will receive a $10 gift card!  I wonder how many people read their emails and my blog….hmmmmm?
  • Pray, Pray, Pray, Pray!!!  Pray that God continues to work!

All I can say is……WOW!

 

 Posted by at 12:27 pm
Jan 222009
 

What does a miraculous Crash Landing have to do with Church Plantingand/or pastoring?

I think a lot!

First of all, pilots and pastors have in common the objective of transporting people from one place to another.  Pilots transport people from one geographic location to another.  Pastors influence people from this life to the next. 

Captain Sully, piloting USAir flight 1549 had an objective of transporting a plane full of people and his number one objective was to keep the people on the plane safe, but when his flight was at risk, he quickly had to consider not only the safety of the people on board but also the safety of the people outside of the vessel.

Churchplanters/Pastors are also in the business of transporting people, but they too are focused on the welfare of people outside of their community.

Captain Sully found himself and the people on board his aircraft quickly at risk after hitting birds that damaged his engines.  As he navigated his vessel he knew that everyone on board was at risk, but he also knew that his choice of landing would determine the welfare and safety of many people outside of his vessel.  He chose a risky crash landing on the Hudson River to protect those on board and to save those outside the craft.

What a great metaphor of the journey of a planter/pastor!

We must navigate the risky waters of a journey of people on a misson, while at the same time remain focused on the spiritual safety and welfare of the people on the outside of our vessels (church community). 

Other Comparisons:
Pilots/airlines aren’t successful if their vessels are empty.
Planters/Pastors fulfill their mission by transporting people into eternity.  They aren’t successful if people aren’t traveling with them.

Pilots manage high risk with people placing their trust in the pilot’s leadership.
Planters take people on a risky journey, asking people to trust God’s leadership through them.

Pilots that fail to transport the people in their trust to the intended destination are considered failures and likely lose credibility in reaching new people to their business.
Planters that fail to lead those entrusted to their care, will inevitably lose influence with those people on the outside of their organization. 

What Captain Sully was able to do was miraculous!
When Planters and Pastors are able to see their mission successful, it is a miracle of God as well!

I love Churchplanting!

 Posted by at 11:27 pm