Archive for January, 2011

How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage (Cultivating Oneness)

This morning we explored God’s heart for marriage as found in Malachi 2:10-16. I concluded the message with 12 ideas on how to divorce-proof your marriage. Now I’d challenge each of us to set aside some time with our spouse to talk through these issues and explore how you can better serve one another.

One thing I didn’t mention this morning is that to improve in any of these areas might take help, input, mentoring, coaching, or accountability from other people. Invite that kind of community into your life. Don’t go it alone.

  1. Proactively seek mentoring or counseling before you need it.
  2. Have a regular date night.
  3. Have fun together & laugh often.
  4. Make love as much as possible.
  5. Get on the same financial page.
  6. Get on the same parenting page.
  7. Men: do whatever it takes to win the battle for purity.
  8. Set strong boundaries in dealing with opposite sex (both in person and on Facebook)
  9. Always speak respectfully and honorably about each other (especially when not present).
  10. Find enjoyment in serving your spouse.
  11. Get overwhelmed by Jesus’ constant faithfulness to you.
  12. See that the purpose of marriage is to make you more like Jesus.
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Living on Mission in Community – Video of Jeff Vanderstelt

One of my favorite parts of being in the Acts29 Network is the exposure and relationships that I have with some wonderful leaders. One of the VPs of Acts29 is Jeff Vanderstelt, one of the pastors at Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington. He’s been out for a number of different training events with the Surge Network and other things, and every time he comes I’m challenged.

Here’s a brief video that summarizes one of Jeff’s core strengths — living on a gospel mission in community. Take a look and I’m sure this will challenge and stretch you.

How could you begin to live in similar ways with people in your life and/or Community Group?

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January 20 Construction Update (New Photos!)

The progress on 8743 E Pecos Rd and the Beyond Campaign continues to be significant and exciting. Every time I go over there, more has changed. As of yesterday, all of the ‘walls’ of the interior are up (at least in metal stud form). It makes it where you can really get a solid feel for how big certain spaces are and how the flow of the building will be.

Additionally, drywall has gone up in a number of places and most of the duct work is complete.

In the pictures below you’ll see a look at the admin space (drywalled), the view from the front door (note the 80′ wall on the left), a couple of looks inside ‘The Box,’ a view down the classroom hallway, and a view of the kids check-in area.

Please keep praying that God would use this space, and us as his people, to extend his gospel to as many people as possible!

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2 Essential Things That Happen When We Stop Fearing People

Over the last few days, we’ve looked at the problem of fearing man and how this can change as we set our focus on fearing God instead. Can you imagine what would happen in your life if you could apply the gospel to this key area?

In his booklet, “Gospel Relationships,” Tim Chester describes two powerful things that take place when we start fearing God:

1. The fear of God sets us free to love people.

We are not free to love other people when we fear their rejection or crave their approval. We may speak of loving someone, but in reality we are using them to gain the affirmation that we crave. We may serve them, but in reality we are serving our need for affirmation. If they do not deliver that affirmation, then we respond with bitterness, depression or anger.

Consider a father who craves the respect of his children. When that respect is not forthcoming, he may discipline them out of anger or he may manipulate them through bribery. He is not serving their needs. He is motivated by his need for respect rather than selfless love for his children. As a result, his discipline may well be counter-productive. Imagine now that the fear of God relativises his desire for respect. The respect of his children is no longer determinative in the way he behaves towards them. As a result, he is free to discipline them in love according to their needs.

2. The fear of God sets us free to be ourselves.

When we fear other people, we act in whatever way we think will enable us to gain their approval or avoid their rejection. We are not free to behave as we want…We often fear other people because we fear exposure. I wear a mask to prevent people from discovering the real me. In God we have someone who knows us completely in all our need and sin. Yet still he accepts us and loves us. Confidence in the grace of God means we need not fear exposure and so we do not have to pretend. We can be ourselves.

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The Antidote to Fearing Man & People-Pleasing

Yesterday I posted 10 questions to help you discern whether you struggle with the fear of man. These are helpful ways to diagnose what is, for many people, a big spiritual problem. But what’s the antidote to this issue?

In his booklet “Gospel Relationships,” Tim Chester provides this answer:

The answer to the fear of man is the fear of God. We need a big view of God. To fear God is to respect, worship, trust and submit to God. To fear God is to have a proper appreciation of his holiness, majesty, glory, power, love and wrath. Christians can now call God our Father, and fear in the sense of ‘terror’ has been taken away…

…[We need] to meditate on God‘s glory, greatness, holiness, power, splendour, beauty, grace, mercy and love. Encourage them to compare the person(s) they fear with God. [We should] imagine that person next to God. Who is the most majestic? Who is the most loving? Who is the holiest? Who is the most beautiful? Who is the most threatening? Who is the biggest?

How would this perspective change your concerns about people’s approval?

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10 Questions to Discern Whether You Are a People Pleaser (aka Man-Fearer)

The apostle Paul says something startling in Galatians 1:10 — “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

There it is. We are either seeking to please man or we are seeking to serve Christ.

Many people (myself included) battle with caring too much about people’s approval. In his excellent book, When People Are Big and God is Small, Ed Welch provides these symptoms of the fear of man:

  1. Are you over-committed? Do you find it hard to say no even when wisdom indicates that you should? You are a ‘people-pleaser,’ a euphemism for the fear of man.
  2. Do you ‘need’ something from your spouse? Do you ‘need’ your spouse to listen to you? Respect you?
  3. Is self-esteem a critical concern for you? … If self-esteem is a recurring theme for you, chances are that your life revolves around what others think. You reverence or fear their opinions. You need them to buttress your sense of well-being and identity.
  4. Do you ever feel as if you might be exposed as an impostor? … It means the opinions of other people — especially their possible opinion that you are failure — are able to control you.
  5. Are you always second-guessing decisions because of what other people might think? Are you afraid of making mistakes that will make you look bad in other people’s eyes?
  6. Do you easily get embarrassed? If so, people and their perceived opinions probably define you. Or, to use biblical language, you exalt the opinions of others to the point where you are ruled by them.
  7. Do you ever lie, especially the little white lies? What about cover-ups where you are not technically lying with your mouth? Lying and other forms of living in the dark are usually ways to make ourselves look better before other people. They also serve to cover our shame before them.
  8. Do other people often make you angry or depressed? … If so, they are probably the controlling center of your life.
  9. Do you avoid people? If so, even though you might not say that you need people, you are still controlled by them.
  10. Have you ever been too timid to share your faith in Christ because others might think you are an irrational fool?

What would you add? How have you seen these in yourself or in others?

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Book Review: Leadership as an Identity

I just finished Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence, by Crawford Loritts. It was recommended by a friend as one of the best leadership books he’d read and I really enjoyed it. I heard Loritts speak a number of times when I was in college at a number of Campus Crusade events, so it was nice to ‘reconnect’ with him and his ministry (he’s now the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia).

As the subtitle suggests, Loritts lists four key traits of godly leadership. They are: 1) Brokenness, 2) Uncommon Communion (with God), 3) Servanthood as an Identity, and 4) Radical, Immediate Obedience

Overall, I found the book to be very helpful. Loritts pulled principles from a number of biblical places, and the book is filled with many great quotes from other Christian leaders. Here is what I took away as the big idea, followed by some of the key lessons and quotes that impacted me, by section.

Big Idea

Leadership is ultimately about character. If you have all the skills and talent and charisma in the world but lack character, you will eventually lose your influence. Christian leadership is fueled by pursuing a close relationship with God and all that comes with it.

1. Brokenness

  • “Brokenness is not a onetime event. It is never finished.” (36)
  • “Sometimes well-meaning people have tried to talk me out of [my] sense of inadequacy. But this sense is vital to fruitful ministry.” (Randy Alcorn, 37)
  • “Pride is one of the easiest ways for a younger leader to lose his influence.” (Ken Behr, 39)
  • “Your ability to discern God’s will is directly related to presenting your body as a ‘living sacrifice.'” (44)
  • “Brokenness empowers a leader because it forces him or her to do more than lip service to the grace of God.” (Tim Kimmel, 54)
  • “Failure should not be the primary source of our brokenness. It is the ever-present realization that we could hurt [God’s] heart–that we carry within us a pull towards sin–that ought to keep pushing us toward God.” (57)
  • “Authentic brokenness always casts the spotlight on the glory of God and not the fact that we struggle.” (67)
  • “God breaks us at various times in our lives to raise us up to the next level. A brokenness episode in our thirties does not exempt us from a brokenness episode in our forties.” (Monty Watson, 75)
  • “If a leader doesn’t humble himself, he leaves God no choice but to humiliate him. And he will because he must. The work of his kingdom cannot be left at the mercy of a leader who is wrapped up in himself.” (Tim Kimmel, 83)

2. Uncommon Communion (with God)

  • “Why do so many workers break down? Not from overwork, but because there has been friction of the machinery; there hasn’t been enough oil of the Spirit.” (DL Moody, 86)
  • “Never underestimate the power of self-deception and the pull towards self-reliance.” (92)
  • “Unexamined failure teaches you nothing.” (96)
  • “The only thing worse than waiting on the Lord is wishing you had!” (113)
  • “I can’t think of a time in which I had everything I needed ahead of time to do what I believe the Lord wanted me to do.” (117)

3. Servanthood as an Identity

  • “Sometimes the [term ‘servant leadership’] is used in a utilitarian way…we need to be careful that we are not using servant leadership language as a strategy–as a means to manipulate people to do what we want them to do.” (131)
  • “Don’t think of yourself as a leader but as a follower of Jesus…most leaders have fallen because at some point of their lives they ceased to be a follower of Jesus.” (131-132)
  • “Both pride and humility have, for the most part, very little to do with your actions and choices, but they have everything to do with your motives and attitudes.” (133)
  • “Unfortunately, too many leaders love the tasks but just tolerate the people.” (145)
  • “Those who work with me or report to me should feel as if I have invested more in them than I have asked them to give.” (146)
  • “This is what Jesus defined as greatness. You must be a servant. You don’t just act like one; you must become one.” (150)

4. Radical, Immediate Obedience

  • “There’s no such thing as partial obedience. We either completely do what God says or we disobey him.” (171)
  • “You can never get too big or too important for God to replace you.” (175)
  • “[When they failed,] Saul was afraid of losing his position as the leader of Israel. But David was afraid of losing the touch, intimacy, and favor of God who had been everything to him. Honestly, what are you more afraid of?” (176)
  • “If you quit now, you probably will be quitting for the rest of your life.” (184)
  • “Courage is…complete obedience in the face of opposition.” (186)
  • “It is a good thing to remember the failures of those we admire.” (188)
  • “Courage is like a muscle; it grows stronger with use.” (192)
  • “We need to be acutely aware of the cumulative nature of our little choices.” (Randy Alcorn, 199)

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