:::: MENU ::::
Browsing posts in: Simply Fun Stuff

ONE YEAR! Really?

On this exact week, one year ago, the Renner family arrived in Orlando Florida. We sold our home and moved away from everything we were comfortable with to travel the 36 hour drive from Phoenix. We moved because I was hired to be the Lead Pastor of a Church that confirmed to my family that they wanted to change and grow. Well…let me simply say, this year didn’t go like I thought it would go…

This past year my family and I have experienced wonder and awe, inspiration and depression, joy and tragedy like we’ve never experienced in life so far. In Florida, I have encountered some very amazing and incredibly wonderful people and at the same time some people, that…well…I don’t even want to type it. Let’s stay positive.

One year. It has been the hardest year of my life. Yet…here we are, moving forward and facing joys and challenges that remind me I’m still alive and my heart is still beating and confirming that there is a lot of work to do for the Lord.

I’m concerned about my kids.
I’m concerned about my wife.
I’m concerned about our new Church Plant.
I’m concerned about a lot of things…but…

God is bigger than all my concerns.
So what does a man do? The answer is simple. The answer is good. The answer is not easy… I press on. I keep my eyes on the finish line of the faith. I refuse to be one who stands before Jesus trying to explain why I let life’s circumstances get in the way of my calling to reach those who are far from God.

I don’t know what this next year holds…
But I know who holds this next year!

Bring it on. I will stand on 1 Corinthians 10:13, “13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

I wonder what I’ll be blogging about this time next year?
ONE YEAR goes by so fast.

The Encounter

Every day we awaken to the fact that a new journey is awaiting to be traveled. It’s an unwritten personal script. A clean slate. If you are human, that clean slate tends to get dirty earlier than any of us are comfortable with. Our collisions with the world, and the people who meander her paths, are never perfect. The soil, soot and slime thrust upon us might be our own doing, or it is the doing of another upon you. Our response to the collision is our victory or our defeat, and most definitely, our choice. Each encounter is an original collision. The collision could leave us thrilled and impassioned and better. Or, the collision could leave us hurt, wanting, and defeated. Very few collisions leave us neutral.

Some collisions will be with people who TEST us. These tests will be graded and it’s always good to get a passing grade. These people-tests can make us better or bitter. A test is not a bad thing. If we choose to pass the test, it will leave us better. A test will only make us better, if we, out of sheer discipline, choose the path of better-ness. The people who test us, are those we will be very careful to journey across again, but we will not avoid them. Other collisions are with people who collide into us like PAINT being applied to a rusty old automobile. It’s tempting to like this collision and think it is good for us, but it doesn’t make us better. This type of collision only gives us the facade of improvement. Too much time with these types of people and we end up beautifully painted rust. At first glance we will be tempted to think that painters actually love us, but reality eventually shows us that their paint wasn’t love at all. Another type of collision we will encounter is a USER. This collision will leave us thirsty, malnourished, buckled and bent. This collision will leave us needing the jaws of life to free us. The repair bill that arrives after this collision is higher than we will expect it to be. The effort to recover the lost confidence from this collision will take your breath away. After a collision with a user, the only benefits we get from it, are calloused knees, as we beg for it to never—ever happen again.

I’m confident that we could brainstorm other types of collisions, and I welcome them in the comments section, but I end this Art of Encounter with this. The best collision to have today is with the POLISHER. The polisher is one whom only brings out the best in us. They will be few and far between, but their encounter gives us the stamina to keep venturing out again and again and again. Taking hit after hit after hit. Who doesn’t love a polisher? They are selfless and they promote other’s progress above their own.

Each encounter is a collision. Each encounter is a teacher.

If you are like me, we thought about specific people we have collided with as each type was read above. Do not dwell too much on them. The most important question to ask ourselves is this…Did anybody reading this… think of my name?

Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability…

I was watching the news over a lunch break just a few moments ago and couldn’t help but notice, through sheer repetition, Jay Carney, President Obama’s Press Secretary saying, “The President believes that the Press should have unfettered & balanced freedom to information so as to honor the first amendment rights of the Constitution, anything else would be inappropriate.”

I’m grateful to know that our constitutional rights are being protected and valued by our leaders of this great country. I do worry about its validity though. Why? Not because I may or may not be a fan of this administration…I pray for it daily, but because I believe deeply, that if you or myself have to keep repeating something publicly, the only persons we may be trying to convince is ourselves.

Does Martha Stewart have to publicly say that she is a great cook?
Does Michael Jordan have to publicly say that he is a great basketball player?
Does Billy Graham have to publicly say that he is a great evangelist?
Does Mother Theresa have to publicly say that she is compassionate?
Does the Miami Heat have to say that they will win the 2013 NBA Championship?

The answer is no, to all the questions above. Why? Because it is obvious. Actions speak louder than words.

In the past I have encountered individuals and groups of people who hungered for their personal agendas to be protected. I have worked through forgiveness for these tragic situations and now have the privilege to be able to write about lessons learned and observations made as I look back now with 20/20 hindsight. I am grateful for you, as you read this, for you have granted me such a privilege of writing, because—well, you are reading this. 🙂

In the multiple accounts I am referring to, I have noticed a similar pattern in each. First, an unspoken and obvious desire to have no accountability or responsibility when something goes wrong. Second, a hunger for power. And third, a hunger to pursue selfish ambition. By the way, ambition is not a sin. The Bible doesn’t warn us against ambition. Jesus was ambitious. What the Bible warns us of, is selfish ambition. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” What is the difference between ambition and selfish ambition? One promotes the progress of self at the apathy towards others. Personal agendas are very dangerous. I might add, personal agendas without accountability grow into forms of devastating evil.

Do a self check right now. This is hard to do when you think you do no wrong. I confess that I have had times in my life where I felt I could do no wrong. The ability to confess that fact is the very act that cleanses that sin. So, I say all that to say, those who need to do a self check the most, won’t…because they don’t think they need it.

Self-Check Time. Is there something in your life that you keep telling yourself or publicly declaring? You will notice it by its sheer repetition. I have repeated to myself in the past, “These people will like me”…and I had to keep telling myself such. Why? Because I really didn’t think people would like me for who I was. It was just a deep insecurity that I grew up thinking. I played on a basketball team in college that was lead by a coach who kept saying that we were a united team, while allowing a couple of players to travel on their own on B-ball trips in their own vehicle. (Not coach Rupe…in case some are wondering) It was clear we had unity problems on and off the court. Yet, the coach kept saying we were a united team? He was only trying to convince himself, we all knew better. I have encountered people who believed the best thing that could happen to their company was simply making sure their presence remained in the company for as long as possible. Who were they trying to convince? I have encountered a group of people who kept telling themselves and me, that they had to have the power. Who were they trying to convince and what was their agenda?

When you hear a preacher, continually harp on an issue…it’s is likely that he/she is struggling with it him/herself.
When you hear a Press Secretary repeat something over and over, it is likely that he is trying to convince himself and/or protect a personal agenda.
When you hear a group of people continually debate about who is in charge, it is likely that they are trying to self-preserve.
I am a student of Church world and have noticed some churches keep repeating how they are the biggest church in their town.(I’m not referring to CCV) Why are they repeating that? When you hear a professional athlete repeat how dominant he is, who is he trying to convince and who is he trying to protect?

What is it in your life that you have been vocally repeating? Who are you trying to convince? You don’t have to convince the people who are watching you. We know you by your actions. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 (NASB), “You will know them by their fruit.” When my words do not back up my actions, everybody knows it but me, and how I look foolish. When your words do not back up your actions, everybody knows it and how foolish you look. Once, there was an elder who told me in front of a bunch of other people that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. That reason is to talk less and listen more. That was great advice that cut to my core. I learned from that elder. I appreciated the accountability, even though it hurt at the time, it made me sit back and shut up and listen. I am still working on getting better at such. What shocked me, is that specific elder was one who wouldn’t shut up in our private meetings. LOL. Crazy isn’t it? We are imperfect people and the only time that gets us in trouble is when we actually try to make other people live better than we do ourselves. I call that behavioral modification and control. It’s everywhere, but it is at its stinkiest in the church. It is crazy how Christians get very angry at other people for sinning differently than they do themselves.

Bottom line…We all need accountability. We need it of any kind. If someone tells you they don’t need accountability…that is the very person who needs it most. Why? Because they said it! Who are they trying to convince?

As far as the Top of the News is going right now….

We are seeing what happens when power seeking more power goes “unfettered” by a lack of accountability through biased-non-reporting from the press. The press is crying foul at something they actually empowered to happen. I pray it is a lesson learned. This lesson should soak into every fragment of our individual lives, corporate lives, committee lives, elder’s in church’s lives, marriage lives, and friendship lives. Hunger for power and living for self leads to secrecy, and secrecy is the beginning of sin/evil…let it go unchecked by covering up the truth and the truth will build such power that it will eventually blow forth in such a mighty way that it will reveal the culprit in a very naked way.

If you are a Christian and in a healthy Church, you should be able to come forward, confess your sin and be embraced by the loving arms of the body of Jesus Christ. There will still be consequences to covering up the truth and sin, but you will be loved not judged. That is the Church behaving its best.

If you are not in the Church, and are, like in today’s top news stories, the U.S. Government…well… your role, and the hot water that seems to be coming to a boil. I’m afraid more judgment is coming than love. The Government is not like the Church. The Government works for the people, and hell hath no fury than a people scorned, lied to and tricked. Its different for the Church, nobody answers to people, we answer to Jesus. There’s a big difference. I would rather answer to Jesus than to people. People are scary. Jesus is not. People are unpredictable, Jesus is not.

I like to say, “Time tells all things.”
Jesus said it better. “You will be known by your fruit.”
Jesus said it best, when He said, “The truth shall set you free.”
Be truthful now and there is nothing to hide and nothing to blow up in our face and leave us naked before our judges.

Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability are very dangerous things.
I’ve never seen a single soul, in all of world history, be able to safely play with power, secrecy, lack of accountability, and not get burnt and thus be left naked and exposed before the whole world.
If you hunger for power, have secrets and a lack of accountability I’ll bet you keep secretly telling yourself that it will all be okay.
Who are you trying to convince?
My advice, if you will accept it, is to take up 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

God is the Power. God knows all secrets. God is the ultimate accountability. AND…God is love. That makes me stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. He is the one and only true King.

In 1905, Charles Gabriel wrote a great Hymn called ‘I stand Amazed in the Presence.” It’s one of my favorite songs. I think when you read the lyrics below, the notes will play in your head. I dare you sing it right from where you sit…who cares who hears you…sing it! 🙂

I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.

Spiritual Influence is portable…This is new to me.

The last two years of my life has schooled me. I believe education is good, even though the cost can be tremendous. This schooling has caused me to change my ministry position and even my family’s physical location. I naively assumed that my spiritual influence, on the people I influenced in my previous ministry position and physical location, would end as my position and location changed. I was wrong, and so many wonderful people in AZ and FL, this past weekend, demonstrated to me that spiritual leadership does not center around what state I live in or what happens to be the name of the Church we all attend or what position I hold. Earned spiritual leadership is portable and eternal. I am deeply grateful for those who have entrusted to me the function of friend, leader, teacher, pastor, mentor, encourager or any other function of influence that you might have allowed me to earn from you. I am humbled and grateful to be given the chance to continue that influence, wherever I live or whatever position I assume. I certainly am learning from all of you, and I do not see that ever ending. I was reminded this weekend that God has placed the entire world in our hands to influence and inspire. We are the body of influence that is holding the whole world. God has given us the huge responsibility of influencing each other and the whole world. I am looking forward to our continued spiritual journey together through this side of life that will ultimately land us in the presence of our King where we will spend eternity in community with one another on the other side of this life. We are family and location or position will never sever that. Until we gather in Heaven, we must keep our spiritual influence on one another portable. That is Church! I look forward to our continued influence upon one another’s lives. This past weekend was healing and revealing for me and I pray it was for you too. So, as we break out of the huddle and head off to our individual ministry positions and physical locations, let’s keep influencing each other, leading one another, loving one another and taking on the world together. We’ll have plenty of time together when our King is told to return and do His thing. Until then…let’s spread out and influence this world in the mightiest way we can with the short time we have left.

What Is The Motivation?

Jesus’s teachings, life and death are common. Many others have taught, lived and died. These common things didn’t motivate the apostles to begin The Church. It is Jesus’s resurrection that charged His followers to boldly give everything for Him.

The resurrection is what set Christianity apart. The resurrection is what makes Christianity right. The resurrection, not your personal preferences, is what should cause deep passion in you. THE RESURRECTION OVERRULES your need to be right, your music preference, what you wear, your leadership style, your insecurity, your ignorance, your sin, your attitude, your control, your dominance, your flesh, and your last breath. They all have been overruled! What else could it mean to be titled, “Lord of Lords and King of Kings?!”