I’m Not The Man I Want To Be… But, I’m Not Done.

In my last post I shared some really personal things. If you missed it you can find it HERE. Many people thanked me for my openness, honesty and vulnerability. That was my goal. One of the most powerful lies that the enemy tells us is that we are the only one that struggles with the things we struggle with. He goes on to tell us that there must be something wrong with us because we are the only ones. As I said, this is a lie. Seldom does any of us struggle with anything that many others are not also struggling with. That’s why I share. So that others can know that they are not all alone.

It’s true, I’m not the man that I want to be. But, I’m not done.

God’s still working on me. You see, God’s word promises that He will continue to work on us until we are complete. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Certainly, I will not reach completion until I go on to be with Jesus, but this verse promises me that God is not done working on me. So, while I’m not the man I want to be today, I know that tomorrow I will be a little closer.

God’s got a plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you…” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I take a lot of comfort in knowing that God has a plan for me. For me, when I make plans, all sorts of things come up. There are just so many things that I can see until they come up. These things catch me by surprise. BUT, with God’s plan none of these things are a surprise to Him. He knows that they are coming and has a plan for every one of those obstacles. Not only can He see them and has a plan for them, He has a plan to use them to grow me.

He’s got a plan for you, and He’s not done working that plan. This message isn’t just for me. You see these verses that I’ve shared apply as much to you as to me. God has a plan for your life. He has begun a good work in you and will see it through to completion. The difficulties you have encountered along the way were not a surprise to Him. He saw them coming and has a plan for those as well. Please understand me, He would not have chosen those painful things, but our world is broken. Because of this, bad things happen. Still we can trust that God wants to lead us through those dark times and use them to grow us.

There is an old saying in the gym, “no pain no gain”. Sadly the same is often true in life. Many times it is through the pain in our lives that we experience personal growth. I don’t say this to discount the pain that these times bring. Sometimes life just hurts. BUT, if we can stay focused on the growth that is coming, it might make the pain a little easier to bear. If we can remember that God has a plan, even in the midst of our pain, it might help us to persevere.

I’m not the man I want to be. That’s true, I am not the man I want to be. But, that’s ok. I closer than I once was, and I know that with each day I have the potential to move closer to the man I want to be. Not because of my own ability or my own work, but because of the work that God is doing in me.


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War Room App

So, a couple weeks ago I wrote a post about my “portable war room”. You can read that post HERE. Well, a coupe days ago I was thinking of how I could take that idea to the next level and have it with me all the time. Certainly I could just use the Notes app or other apps like Evernote. I tried to use the built-in Notes that comes with all iOS devices and it didn’t really work for me. I also tried using Evernote. I LOVE Evernote and use it for all kinds of other things, but it didn’t really work for me for my prayer list. So, I wanted something different. I like the idea of the post-it notes in the folder that I’ve been using. I still use it when I’m at home and can take the folder with me when I travel, but I wanted something that I could take EVERYWHERE. Like something that I could pull up on my lunch break or while sitting in my car before work. So I searched and found the perfect app: The Post-It Notes App.

Here is a picture of my portable War Room. You can read the full post on this using the link above.

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This works great, but I wanted something electronic to augment it. That’s where the Post-It notes app comes in. This app allows me to actually take a picture of my portable War Room. It recognizes the Post-It notes, removes the background and creates a board with the post it notes on it.

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From there you can click on a certain one and zoom in on it.

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Then you can scroll left or right through all of the notes on that board.

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You can also create multiple boards. This would allow you to create different grouping of prayer requests. For instance I have a friend that separates his prayer list into different categories. On certain days he prayers for people that he know who are in ministry. You could create a different board for each of your categories. Or you could create a different board for certain days, depending on how you managed your prayer list.

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In addition to snapping pictures of paper post-it notes, the app allows you to create new notes right in the app. This would allow you to add notes on the go. In this pic I chose to type the note, but you can also write one. For $.99 you can buy the full editing suite, which would allow you to edit notes you create as well as pic different colors for your note “paper” and different color ink.

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Another cool feature I almost forgot to mention is that you can add any, or all of the notes in the app to your “Today” screen. This is the screen that you get when you drag down from the top of your home screen. This allows even quicker access to your prayer requests. You can then go straight to the app from there. Another way to help cut down on possible distractions. If you’re like me, that’s important.

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I know that there are many other ways to manage your prayer requests. Some I mentioned in the opening to this post. For me the other apps allow for to much chance for distraction. This one is simple. I can look at one prayer at a time. I can include as much information as I can get on a post it note. Or I can just put a name. Since I am only using it for prayers then the only thing that will come up when I open the app will be prayers. Also, since I can get to it from the Today screen, then I don’t even have to actually go into my phone to get to them. There are certainly other apps out there that can do this job, but I like how this one works.

 

Let me know what apps you are using for prayer lists, requests, etc.

 


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It’s Time To Push Back

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail overcome it.” Matthew 16:18
Last week my brother invited me to a special prayer meeting at his church. While many in our country were getting ready for family cookouts, we were gathering to pray. You see there were people in my brother’s church that were going through spiritual warfare and he wanted to do something about it. As we gathered he spoke briefly in way of introduction. He told of the various spiritual attacks that were happening to the people of his church. Then he said that he felt it was time to “push back”. As he said this I was reminded of the verse that is quoted above.
Many people in the church read this verse and take great comfort in it. They are comforted by the fact that the hell can not win against Jesus’ church. However, I think that many miss the point with this verse. We use this verse to make ourselves feel comfortable within our walls. We use them to feel comfortable within lives lived separate from the world. That is not what Jesus is saying in this verse.
Gates are DEFENSIVE.
 
This passage is not talking about Jesus taking care of us as we huddle together in our safe little church buildings. When it talks about gates it is not talking about US being safe from THEIR attacks. Gates are defensive. They are designed to either keep something out, or to keep something in. In many cases it’s both. Think about a pen housing thoroughbred horses. The fence and the gate around that pen. It is certainly designed to keep the horses from wondering off. However, it is also designed to keep people that would seek to steal or harm the horses. THAT is what this verse is talking about. The GATES of hell will not prevail against the Church. This doesn’t mean that their attacks against the church will not be successful. Rather it means that Jesus is promising US an advantage.
Defending against what?
 
If a gate is a for defense, then it implies that there is a pending attack. At the very least it means that there is the possible of an attack. If hell has defensive gates, then what are they defending against? The words of Jesus tell us that the thing that hell is defending agains it US, the Church. When was the last time you knew of a church that posed a significant threat to the gates of hell. We claim to hold the words of the Bible as both sacred and true. We hold the words of Jesus to be even more so. Yet we act as if these gates are impenetrable.
It’s time to push back.
 
If we believe the words of Jesus to be true, then we, as the church, represent a power that the very gates of hell CANNOT prevail against. These are not my words. These are the words of Jesus. In preparation for this post I took some time to look up the original meanings of the words used intros verse. When I looked up when it says that the “gates of hell” it means… “the gates of hell.” When it says “will not prevail against it” it means “will not prevail against it.” Jesus is telling us that we have the power, through Him, to take on hell.
For far too long the church has been satisfied simply sitting in our comfortable, or even not so comfortable, seats in our comfortable buildings and refusing to take the battle to the enemy. We have been satisfied defending our home base. This is NOT what Jesus prescribed in this verse. What Jesus is telling us is that we should be attacking the gates of hell, not hiding from them. I’m not saying that the things we are doing at the church building are wrong. There may be some practices that need to change, but many of these things are good. However, we DO need to get out of the building and into the community. The enemy is attack people all around us and it is happening within the community.
So, what can you do as a Christian, as a church leader or even as a church member to attack the gates of hell? I once heard Perry Noble talk about when he was asked, “What would you do tomorrow if you knew you couldn’t fail?” His answer is that he would start a church. Jesus has promised us that when we attack the gates of hell, we can not fail. My question you is KNOWING that you can not fail, what will you do?

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Do You REALLY Believe In Prayer?

We often talk about and teach the importance of prayer. If you went back and read my old posts you would see prayer and it’s importance in many of my writings. Still I have to ask the question, do I REALLY believe in the power and importance of prayer?

Is prayer important? Throughout the New Testament we read about Jesus taking time to pray. In fact, the night before He was arrested He spent hours in prayer. Clearly the example of Jesus shows that prayer is important.

Is prayer powerful? In Joshua chapter 10 we read where Joshua prays and the sun stops moving in the sky, giving them  the time they needed to defeat their enemy. Clearly prayer is powerful?

Why do we forsake it? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, if I’m not careful, my tendency is to depend on my own abilities as I plan programs, events, and work to lead the ministry God has called me to. So, why do I forsake prayer? The truth is, I never plan to. God has gifted me in certain ways, as He has all whom He calls to lead. Because of this gifting there is a certain amount of leading, planning, etc that I can do without ever having to pray. BUT, what am I missing when I do this?

Can God do more than me? This seems like a dumb question, but when we try to do ministry without prayer the message we are sending is that we can do it without God. Sure, we are gifted and there is a certain amount that we can do without Him. But, how much more could God do in our ministry if we prayed?

Pain is coming. Ministry is hard and, often frustrating. As I write this I find myself somewhat buried under the weight of ministry. As I have thought about the many facets of my ministry and where they are, where they need to go and how we get them there the burden seems to get heavier by the day. It is while I thought through some of this stuff that I realized that prayer is not a regular part of my ministry. HOW ARROGANT have I become that I think I can do this without God? To say that sounds like pure lunacy, but when we work without prayer this is what we are doing. The weight that I have carried lately is a direct result of my lack of prayer. By not spending the time in prayer that I need to I have chosen to carry a burden that was never mine to carry.

Are you building in vain? Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, it’s builders labor in vain.” When we exclude prayer as a regular part of our routine, of how we plan and lead our ministry, then we are building this house that we call ministry in VAIN. Merriam-Webster defines vain as, “having no real value” or “marked by futility or ineffectualness.” It also uses words like idle, worthless, unsuccessful, and useless to describe what vain means. None of these are words I want used to describe the ministry I lead. Without prayer this is exactly the words that will ultimately describe our ministry.

So what? I have often thought and felt that I needed to spend more time in prayer. However, it has never really struck me that without prayer, everything I do is in VAIN. Wow! That’s a punch in the gut. Prayer will certainly not remove all the difficulties or ministry. Ministry is still hard work, but if it simply removed the frustrations that come as a result of my lack of prayer, how great would that be?

So what will I be doing differently? I have been working, for the past few weeks, on getting into a weekly routine. An intentional plan for how I spend my time each week, from day to day. This started as a way to help ensure that I got my daily exercise each morning. Now, I will build on what I have already started and add an intentional time of prayer to this daily routine.

How do you ensure that prayer is a regular part of your life and ministry?

 


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The Kids in Your Church Need You to Become a Student of Pop Culture

Ok, I’ll be straight up. There are things that my kids enjoy, are into or watch that I simply am not into. In fact some of it I don’t get and am completely not interested in. But, my kids and the kids in my church need me to do what I can become a student of pop culture.

What is pop culture? Merriam-Webster, surprisingly, doesn’t show a definition for pop culture, but this is what Wikipedia.org says: “pop culture is the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, images, and other phenomena that are within the mainstream of a given culture.” (I know. It’s not a reliable source, but it’s the best I have. LOL) Basically the “pop” in pop culture is short for popular. So, it is everything that is popular in a given culture. As a parent and children’s minister that means everything that is popular in the culture of children.

Ok, but why should I care? There are a number of reasons why we should make ourselves a student of pop culture. Let’s take a look at some of them.

To connect with kids. When a missionary moves to a new area he or she seeks to learn the culture of that area. This allows them to better connect with the people they are trying to reach. The same is true when we learn the culture of children. It will allow us to better connect with them so that we can have the opportunity to speak into their lives.

To better be able to speak into the lives of children. Connecting with them gives us the opportunity to speak into their lives. Becoming a student of pop culture can help us do that even better. When you use an example from a game or show that your kids are into when teaching, you will be amazed at how quickly they plug in.

Equip parents. Parents are busy. Perhaps busier than ever before. There are also many more threats in pop culture than ever before in our society. These two facts combine to mean that many parents are painfully unaware of what these threats are and what they can or should do about them. As parents I believe we all have a responsibility to learn what we can about these potential threats. As a children’s ministry leader we can help parents by doing some of the research for them. Learn what you can and then help the parents in your church learn it to.

Pop culture changes quickly. My kids are 7 years apart. The things that my 13-year-old son was into when he was little barely even exist any more and the things that my 6-year-old daughter is into didn’t exist when my son was little. Pop culture changes quickly. For this reason we must constantly be seeking to learn about what is popular now. It’s a never-ending process, but the results of doing it are worth it. Likewise, the possible consequences of NOT doing it are more than I’m willing to risk.

 

 

 


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