Everyone Doing their Part

Today is an excellent day in Cambodia. The team did a work day at the hope center in Kampong Thom and Janae and I attended the new life staff retreat. We heard some great teaching and had the honor of teaching and praying over the staff.

This afternoon and evening the team are having a game time and ministry time with the orphans and attending and helping with an English class.

We will continue the retreat tonight. Believing God to truly use us to make a difference. Helps us to encourage and strengthen the church here in Cambodia.

Please continue to pray for the team. Thanks for the part you played in sending us.

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands…

It’s amazing how wide your eyes are opened when you travel the world and experience new cultures.  I’ve said it before but its true none the less.  It is thrilling to stand among the people of Africa and Asia and worship God with them.  It’s powerful.  Really there is nothing like it in the world.  You immediately realize, this is my family.  No matter the cultural differences, or the language barriers or the different methodilogies, you can always sense the family unity, and know “we belong together.”

I want to encourage anyone who would read this blog, go on a missions trip.  Be a blessing to someone around the world, by not just giving, but also going.  I realize it may not be your thing, I realize you may only do it once, but if you did it just once, it would broaden your horizons significantly.

So as I prepare to go to Africa to carry the message, to train leaders, to help the poor, to minister to orphans, to build classrooms, I realize now more than ever, He has the whole world in his hands, and I have a huge family.

Blessings

David

Count Down to Africa

We are about a week and a half away from leaving for Africa. On this trip we will go to Rwanda and Uganda. Our efforts in Rwanda will include concerts, leadership training, work projects, neighborhood festivals, and kids ministry. We are coming along side a local church and outreach ministry. The name of the church is Christ Church Rwanda, and the Outreach ministry is called Rwanda Outreach. Both of these originate in OKC. They have been there for 4 years and their ministry is truly impacting the nation. They have a school and a church and are reaching out in many ways.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Christs-Church-Rwanda-CCR/184432588265529

We will then travel to Uganda and work with a great organization called “Watoto” we will be building a classroom in one of their villages. Its a great partnership. They are making a change in their nation that is significant.

http://vimeo.com/22382931

Please be praying for all of our efforts to make the most impact they can, and for out team to be strong, and anointed to do What God has called us to do.

Here we go.

How to Grow Your Church “Paul Style”

Temple of Zeus in Athens at Athens.

Image via Wikipedia

Acts 17:16

The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.  Last night I was having my study time, and came across this passage of scripture.  I read this whole chapter and realized that Paul was a real strategists.  He may not have proactively thought through his strategy, the Bible doesn’t tell us, it just records what he did.  If you look at what he did you will find an interesting strategy for church growth, church planting, and the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It started with him getting mad.

It says, the longer he waited the more angry he became.  He was passionate about the need for religious clarity.  He was angry that these people were serving mere idols when all they needed was to know Jesus, to be informed.  His anger moved him to action.  His action however was not some arbitrary attempt at spiritual exercise that made him feel good about himself but did very little good for the kingdom or the people who so desperately need the truth.  His action was purposed, clear, and effective.  If you are planting a church, leading a church, or trying to grow a church this is a great blog for you.

How to make the church stronger in faith and larger in number.

1.  Get mad (passionate) about the community you are in.

I don’t believe that God always sends people to a specific place, but to a specific purpose.  Sometimes He clearly does send people to a specific place.  Whether he mandates the place or not, one thing is certain.  If you will grow a church in your community, you must be passionate about that community.  Do you know your community?  What are its successes or failures?  What are its accomplishments or conflicts?  What are the needs and demographics.  Be passionate about it and get a revelation of the churches role in that community.  Don’t find yourself answering questions no one is asking.  Know the community and be a solution.

2.  Gather Like minded leaders around you and talk about your vision to bring change or help.

Partner with other church leaders in the community, and your own top level leaders to gather around the same cause.  Sharing the Gospel, helping the community, disseminating the truth.

3.  Emmerse yourself in your community daily.

Teach your team and you yourself get to know the people and heartbeat of your city.  This passage says that paul went out into the streets daily and got in discussions with people who happened along.  Meaning he was friendly, connected, helpful, straightforward.

4.  Build relationships with community leaders and people outside your church.

Through the discussions Paul was having he built relationships with people.  Some people didn’t want to have anything to do with him, but others were interested in what He had to say.  His relationships grew until they invited him into their circle.  Gain influence with others to the degree that they will listen to you.

5.  Research and study your community to the point you can speak intelligently about it and relate to them.

Paul talked to them using their thinking, their philosophers to relate to them and draw them around to his point.  Remember Paul was driven by a passion for their souls, not by a need to be right, or prove anything.

6.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Paul did not beat around the bush or try to hide the fact that He was Christian and that was his purpose.  When we are so mysterious about our  agenda and what we are trying to do, it comes across inauthentic and is very off putting.  We are in the community to help, to contribute, to love, but most importantly and primarily to share the Love and Grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Don’t sneak up on people, just be who you are.

So I can hear people now saying, what is so important about growing the church , we just need to share the love of Jesus and see what happens.  Well lest you think that paul was  not promoting growth, or being strategic about it, please hear this scripture.  Acts 16:4-5 (MSG) As they traveled from town to town, they presented the simple guidelines the Jerusalem apostles and leaders had come up with.  That turned out to be most helpful.  Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size.

God is all about growing the church spiritually and numerically and He is very strategic about it.

What do you think, about what they Think?

Why do some people see themselves as less than, small, insignificant, without worth? I’m sure there are a lot of reasons why people see themselves that way, but i think there’s one reason why they stay locked into that view.

I believe the way we think, effects the way we view life, behave, and respond to others and this creates a cycle in our lives. A good example is the way the israeli spies who went into cannan on behalf of moses saw themselves. When Moses asked them if they were able to go in and win victory in Cannan, they said although the land is magnificent, we can’t defeat them, they said something very important. We are as grasshoppers in their sight, and our sight also. Meaning they saw themselves as small and insignificant, therefore unable to apprehend the promise of God. It didn’t matter that God had proven his power over and over, they could not move forward, because of the way they saw themselves.

The question is how do we see ourselves, and what is that producing in our lives?

Think about this process. The way we think determines the way we behave. Our behavior evokes certain responses from people. Those responses reinforce the way we think.

Example:  A person thinks no one likes them, they are a social outcast.  If that’s what they think, when they go out in social gatherings, the way the posture themselves, and the look on their face says very clearly to people, “I don’t want to be approached.”  (There thinking is effecting their behavior).  As a result people stay away from them, or are awkward around them.  (there behavior is evoking a response).  The response reinforces their original belief, “People don’t like me.”

We can all relate to this cycle in our lives on different levels in different ways.  What is important is that we realize it starts with the way we think.

How do we break this cycle and begin to think in ways that will cause us to move forward in life and stay away from this downward spiral?

1.  Begin by having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Knowing Jesus helps you truly know yourself.  God created you and wants to have a relationship with you.  He created you with purpose, and wants to redeem the purpose with you and give your life meaning.

2.  Begin to think of yourself the way God does.

God sees you with the eyes of potential.  The Bible said you are made in the likeness of God.  It also says that we are beautifully and wonderfully made.  God loves us, wants to be in relationship with us, and has a destiny for us.

3.  Discipline your mind to think positive thoughts about your life and purpose and your behavior will follow.

If you think Right, Your behavior will be positive, peoples response will be favorable, and that will reinforce the way you think.

4.  Always remember the only opinion that actually counts, is God’s.

Don’t let other people determine our destiny, let Gods thoughts rule in your heart and mind.

What are your thoughts?  Please Share…

Wasting Away in the House

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1886-94) from ...

Image via Wikipedia

We continued the series, “Outbreak” at harvest this weekend.  One of our points was one thing that changed when the new testament church was born was a realization that is God’s goodness that brings blessing on us, and His goodness that reaches and changes mankind.  Not the fairness of man.  People want everything to be “Fair.”

The truth is we don’t really want God to be fair.  If God was fair, then we should be under an eternal damnation.  We are imperfect sinful humans, and He is a holy God.  So in order for us to be in relationship with him, our sin had to be dealt with.  It was not fair that Jesus should have to pay our penalty.  It was not fair that Jesus took a beating on His back for the sake of our healing.  It was not fair that he had to take on human flesh to accomplish all of this.

However I am so glad He did.  When we have this attitude of man’s fairness it implies that we somehow deserve more than others.  We think, “I’m living right.”  “I’ve been a Christian for a long time.”  So God is going to bless me more than others.  The truth is we can’t earn the blessings of God.  God blesses us because He loves us, because he is good.  Sometimes we allow our pride to be irritated when God blesses people that we feel like are not as far along the spiritual maturity road as we are.

Realize this today, God loves everyone else as much as He loves you.  Now remember this is no lisense to sin, this is not lisence to be immature spiritually, but spiritual maturity is not about earning anything, it about believing the right things, its about realizing who you are and who’s you are

A perfect example of this is the story of the prodigal son.

Luke 15:25-31 (NKJ) “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

We have confused the idea of this story.  We have confused the word prodigal with the word rebellious.  The word prodigal means wasted.  When the younger son took the inheritance and left his family, he wasted his money, his talent, his time, his relationships.  His life became a waste.  A waste of potential and purpose.  The son I am interested in today however is not the one who wasted his life away from the house, but the other prodigal, the one who wasted his life while still in the house.

This passage of scripture is the conversation between the older son who stayed home.  The truth was he was being just as wasteful with his life as his brother who left was.  When the younger son came home the father greeted him, loved him, accepted him, and blessed him.  The older son, became angry.  He said I don’t understand, I have been here all this time and you haven’t thrown a party for me, you don’t appear to love me like you do this son who has run away.  The father says something to him that is the answer to living without resentment.  It is the answer to living life with purpose and not wasting your potential.  He said, all I have is yours, at any time that you’ve been here you could do whatever you want.  I do love you, but my love for you does not decrease my love for your brother.  The prodigal that stayed home had an issue with pride, and resentment.  The things he did that made his life a waste were, 1.  He resented his brothers failure, 2.  He compared himself with his brother, 3.  He forgot who he was, 4.  He thought the father was unfair.

How do I keep from wasting my life?

1.  Focus on Gods goodness, not on your or others imperfections.

God wants to empower you to overcome sin, and shame.  If you are obsessed with others failures your heart and mind are not moving in the right direction.  Your going backward, not forward.

2.  Don’t waste your time comparing yourself with others.

Its fine to emulate, and sometimes even imitate what others do.  Don’t ever compare yourself with others.  Compare yourself to the word, and to the potential that God has placed in you.

3.  Remember who you are.

You are a child of the King of Kings.  You are the righteousness of God.  You are empowered by the grace of God.  You have Gods promises at your disposal.  You are a power filled individual, because of Gods power in you.

4.  Focus on the goodness of God, not the fairness of man.

God blesses us because of his goodness, not becuase of our earning it.  Don’ let pride, religeous thinking, or comparison trap you in a life of condemnation, insecurity, anger and fear.  Live above all that by focusing, expressing, and living in the goodness of God.

Excited to be Invited!

Jesus

Image via Wikipedia

Sitting here in starbucks working on leadership track development, about to shift gears to meet with some of our male pastors to brainstorm the Total Man Retreat for 2011.  So in the few minutes I have before they get here, I want to share with you my experience with inviting people to church.  I do and have always loved the opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people.  Really get in deep conversation about it and lead them to a relationship with Him.   However that doesn’t always happen in every conversation we have with people who we would want to come to church.  Many times you have time to merely invite people.  We use a tool at harvest called an invite card.  Its a business card type of an invitation.  It has the information for our campuses on it, and leaves a blank place we can put your name and number.  I use these all the time.

My experience with inviting people to church is simple.  People are excited to be invited.  I haven’t invited anyone to church yet that was antagonistic to me, or rejected me.  They don’t always come but I have never been treated badly when I have invited someone to come to church.  Its a compliment to someone to be invited somewhere.  I say this just to encourage everyone, the normal everyday person, no matter what the “experts” say, are not antagonistic towards the church, or to those who would invite them.  I think sometimes people “experts” make these sweeping statements about how people view the church, that are based on pop culture, but I encourage you to ask the next person who says something like that, “How many people have you invited to church, and how did they respond?”  Usually the extreme silence gives you the answer.

So, here are some easy practical ways to invite people to church or engage them in a conversation about Christ.

1.  Change your thinking:  From they don’t want to hear, and don’t want to be invited, to, They are excited to be invited.

I believe that most people would at least try church out if they were invited to go.  What are you losing to Invite them?

2.  Just invite them.

Be friendly, look for a time in the conversation before you go separate ways to invite them to come to church with you.

3.  Be available for a conversation.

Slow down a bit and be available to talk.  When you are in a public place don’t be glued to your phone, look up and engage people.  People want, and love to talk.  Be available for the conversation and the opportunity will present itself to invite them to church.

4.  Use a tool to help you.

If you have something like an invite card, use it.  It provides you with something to give, it helps you give them information that will keep you connected.

5.  Look for opportunities to do something Kind for someone.

This always creates an open door to talk about Jesus or invite them to church, because they want to know why you did that for them.

6.  look outside your family, and close friends.

What’s wrong with inviting someone you have met for the first time?  Remember they are excited to be invited!