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Posts tagged with: Hope

Major Transition reality for the Renner Family…

 

It has been around 365 days since I moved into Fountain Hills AZ, and began my new ministry venture at the Church called Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills.

I am grateful for the large numbers of people that have been watching, praying, and cheering for the Renner family from a distance.

I want to compare my experience to previous ones.  I have been in some kind of professional ministry for the past 27 years.  The different titles I have been given through those 27 years within the local church have been; Preaching Pastor, Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, Singles Pastor, First Impressions Pastor, Evangelism Pastor, Church Planter, Merging pastor, Senior Minister, Lead Minister, President of Mission Org, Bible Teacher, and a few titles that I have heard whispered behind closed doors about me.  LOL!

All is good.  I write this blog to the professional pastor out there and I have one purpose and point in this post.  For those who are not a professional pastor, I hope you will read and be challenged to encourage your pastor, who may not always show it in ways you think you need, but he/she loves you and wants to protect you, and prepare you to meet Jesus someday, like nobody else in your life.

Out of all the titles I’ve held over the past 27 years, the current title I hold has been the most challenging and difficult thing I’ve done.  The title is best described in its simplest form as Lead Pastor.  But that title is not the best description of my title.  The real title, in the eyes of those my position has affected the most, is …”Our Next Pastor.”

It is a legitimate title, because I have been called it too many times to count in just the last year. Its not a bad title and in all honesty it really is the most fitting title for the situation.  I’m good with the title.

After 26 years of very successful ministry endeavors, this year 27 has had me feeling like I didn’t have a clue in what I was doing.  In the past 27 years, I have been more of a church planter type lead pastor than anything else.  So when I transitioned into the role of “our next pastor” to replace a retiring founding pastor who had tenure for 33 years, I really had no idea what I was getting into.  And I got into it thick!  From what I’ve been told or have read about other pastors who have transitioned into the role of “our next pastor”… I’ve had it pretty good.  In fact this isn’t my first rodeo with trying to be the “our next pastor.”  I tried it once in a church in FL and literally quit 7 weeks into it.  It just wouldn’t be right to share the gory details of that hardship my family encountered…but…  all  that to say, becoming “our next pastor” is not for the faint of heart.  It is not fun, but it is good. It literally is the hardest thing I’ve done in professional ministry.  So…what’s my main point here? Keep reading…

Many USA resources are stating that around 10,000 baby boomers, people born between 1946-1964, are retiring everyday right here in the good ol USA… and will continue to do so until 2036. Google it, its crazily true.  Calculate that and it equals more than 80 million people retiring in the next 19 years.

I believe it is fair for me to guess, then, that there will be a multitude of founding pastors in that mix of retirees.  Which means there will be multitudes of “our next pastors” stepping into their shoes, picking up their torches, or taking their batons.  For those who are about to step into the shoes of those retiring founding pastors, please heed my words of warning.

There is nothing more leadership intensively difficult, nothing more hazardous to orchestrate, nothing more uncertain in its success, that will leave you feeling isolated and abandoned, than to fill the shoes of a retiring-founding pastor, and be the one who introduces a new era of influence. You, serving as ‘Our Next Pastor’ will have enemies in all those who love the old form, and at best, lukewarm support in all those who will benefit by the new. So, for God’s sake, for the Church’s sake, for the lost’s sake, for a troubled world’s sake, look forward, move forward, dig deep, for the very reason this situation is happening, is because the current status quo isn’t working anymore. Lead on, O’ leader, lead on!  You only need the solid rock on which you stand, to be your inspiration…Jesus…to remind you that He can do immeasurably more than you dare to ask or hope for! So persist, press on, endure! Let Jesus be your only audience you desire to please, and He alone must be your faith, your hope, and your love.  You are the, ‘our next Pastor’!  You got this! 

If I can personally visit with you over the phone, email, or at a table, with a hot cup of coffee or Dr. Pepper with a wedge of lime squeezed in it, please just ask.  I’ve been taking extremely thorough notes through this adventure. I am seeing success. More time will tell the truth in how I’m doing.  It has become vividly clear to me why churches struggle to produce fruit beyond the 100, 200, & 400 growth barriers. I can help you! I know I will pump you up!! 🙂  And even more, I know I would also learn from you.  I’d be grateful to swap stories with you, compare scars, celebrate our victories, cry through the heart wrenching experiences our families face as we lead people to experience God, and most of all, I simply want to encourage you, and have you walk away with shining eyes!

This is really, really good work we do.  Of course it is hard. It reminds us how alive we really are.

 

 

 

 


You mad at the Church, bro?

You mad bro?  

You mad at the imperfect Church?  Mad at the crowd that makes her up?  Mad at how they follow that leader who is imperfect too?  You think to yourself, and verbalize to others around you, “How could they!?…Can’t they see how imperfect it all is!!?”

Most can’t tell how angry you are, but I do. I see you. I hear you. I know you. More importantly…your Creator notices, hears, and whispers into your angry deaf ears. Your anger makes you think you are hearing God’s voice, but your internal screaming is so loud, you miss His gentle whisper. You’re not hearing God’s will, you are hearing your own shrill.

So you have an angry plan. And you love it when a plan comes together!

Your anger drives you to be on your A game.  You feel good!  You are motivated like never before.  You feel so alive, confident, and empowered!  You are good! Your anger hypnotizes you to fall in love with your idea. Your anger cements in your expectations, and your anger has you on a passionate high, assured of your success.

My friend…You aren’t mad at the Church.

You’re just mad.

Unhappy. In actuality, your anger, originated in hurt.

Your hurt isn’t working for you. Forgive. Whoever-Whatever…forgive! I know you don’t feel like forgiving.  Do it anyway.  Be free.  Be smarter because of your hurt, not dumber.  Being dumber will only hurt you more and then you’ll get more angry.  If you’re not careful, you’ll be so hurt, your anger will lead you to find a theology that proves how wrong the Church is, and that downward spiral of death, will have you actually believing someday that Jesus didn’t really raise from the dead, you’ll convince yourself He’s not the Messiah…you end up in hell.

If you’re mad, bro…You’re already in a hell. Don’t force it into eternity.

Stop it!

Repent. Ask God for forgiveness…for being mad at the crowd for following that leader. That leader who hurt you. That Christian who sinned.  That crowd that sheepishly and blindly follows. Ask for forgiveness for thinking you can do it better. Ask for forgiveness for being angry at The Church for her imperfections.

Let it go.

Let joy return.

Jesus is the Hope of the world, NOT the Church.

The local Church is just an imperfect conduit to Jesus.  Love the Church again. Jesus died for her. There’s no greater love than that. Love the…

Imperfect.

Messy.

Beautiful mess!

Church.

You.

 

 

 


PERKS OF AGING…answering mom’s challenge…

Yesterday was my birthday. 46.

Facebook proved to be an amazing tool on my birthday.  I posted today that I received “Happy Birthday!” wishes from Indonesia, Peru, Uganda, Liberia, New Zealand, Israel, Canada, Florida, California, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, and good ol AZ…someone commented quickly and said, “and now from Idaho too!”  The world has definitely gotten smaller…its pretty easy to contact people all over the world!

I ended my Facebook post today with,… “BTW, getting older has its perks!”… My mom responded with,

“What perks does getting older have? List them for all of us.“– Mom

Alright mom…here are many…but not all.

A perk to getting older…agingwine

…is it becomes clearer each day that Heaven is real, the Bible is true and God loves us more than we’ll ever know.

…is we appreciate the laughter of child a bit more than when we were young.

…is we have a deeper appreciation for when somebody experiences positive life change.

…is we now understand that life isn’t going to serve us like we wish it would. In fact we realize that life doesn’t think about us, fulfill us, or give us success…it must be earned and is never guaranteed.

…is we have a better understanding that if we do earn success, it can be gone tomorrow, so we appreciate success a little deeper. A side perk of getting older…we have learned that success doesn’t guarantee happiness.

…is that we realize happiness is never an entitlement.

…is we know for a fact that stuff will never make us happy, but we understand that we will be tempted to think so.

…is, Every year we live, we realize it will go by faster.  The perk…is we are better at slowing down and enjoying each moment a little longer.

…is we know we will never be free from temptation and we have learned to not pray for protection as much as for strength to resist it.

…is we have learned the hard truth that most people in our life will hurt us, but we know we don’t have to hurt back…and no matter what happens, we have learned that bitterness and un-forgiveness are actually worse for us than what the people did to us.

…is the knowledge that forgiveness is mostly for my personal benefit.

…is we have learned that it’s good to care about what people think, but we know better than to allow it to influence our self esteem.

cheese-shelf4…is we have learned that God uses pain to refine us. If we don’t like that fact, we have learned that it won’t do any good to get mad at God about it.

 

…is we have learned that we are going to hurt people. But we don’t ever want to do it on purpose, ever.

 

 

…is we have learned that“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”… is true, they really are just words.

…is we have learned that Hurt people….hurt people. So…when someone hurts us, we have learned to think about what has hurt them that causes them to now hurt us, and it helps us have more compassion and ability to forgive.

…is we have learned that promoting the progress and purpose of others…is truly the good life.

…is we have learned that a majority of people will never win the lottery, or have 15 minutes of fame…and we know for a fact that anything worth having, never come easy.

…is we have learned that If something is worth doing, it is worth doing…even poorly.

…is we know our spouse knows us better than everybody, except God. Listen to them unless they tell us something different than God tells us.

…is we have learned that a secret is the beginning of sin taking over our lives.cropped-happy-old-people

…is we know it is good to Speak the truth even if it makes our voice shake.

…is we know that we will never feel like forgiving someone who hurt us, but we should forgive anyway and often if necessary.

…is we have learned that it is a mental health requirement to have a sense of humor about ourselves because the more we laugh at ourselves, the lighter life can be.

…is we have learned that we all are idiots, just in different areas, se we are getting better at not pointing fingers.

…is we know with confidence that we can’t control anything.

…is our knees/ankles/hips/whole body….hurts because we have lived a full and adventurous life that has worn us down.

…is we know…there’s not much we’d change if we could do it all over again…but the things we would change…would make all the difference!

…is we fully understand that just because someone has aged, it doesn’t mean they have these perks.

…is we fully agree that youth is wasted on the young. 🙂

There are so many more…go ahead, add some in the comments section.

I love growing older and I pray that I am fortunate enough that I will have lived my life to a ripe old age, in such a way, that people will want to care for me when I can’t care for myself.

5-myths-of-hospice-care_0


Leadership as a Spiritual Gift — vs — Leadership as a Verb

EVERYBODY LEADS…

Leadership really seems to be a sensitive subject lately. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere in the past decade, leadership and leaders have been under intense scrutiny.  There are many characteristics that come to mind when someone says the word, leader.  Is it just me, or in the past decade has something shifted in our culture that causes negative stereotypes to intrude our brains the instant we hear the word leader?

If you’d like to read a side post in regards to what are called the top 101 qualities of a leader, just click the picture below and enjoy

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.00.51 PM

My first sentence of this post simply states that everybody leads.  I think that most agree, leadership, in its truest definition, is simply influence.  So, in that sense, we all lead because we all influence something or someone.  With that, I want to bring about the fact that there is a difference between Leadership as a verb…which we all do, and Leadership as a Spiritual Gift, which has been given to some and not to others.  The Bible is clear about this in the letter to the Romans in chapter 12:3-8...

Many Gifts but One Body

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s[b] faith;
if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;  (“Whoomp, there it is!”) 🙂 
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

I’m writing about this, because it has become personal to me.  By personal, I don’t mean in an offensive way, I mean in a way that has become personally obvious to me and has impacted me personally.  Since the merge of Parkway Christian Church with Christ’s Church of the Valley in 2011, I have been trying to get back into a Lead Pastor position with a local Church, anywhere in the USA, for the past 5 years and I have encountered a tragic phenomena.  I have encountered more than 30 different local churches across the country saying they are looking for their Church’s next leader/Lead Pastor to lead them into the next phases of their church life…and…as I have delved in with them, in regards to what they mean when they say LEADER, I have come to the conclusion that most really don’t want a leader, but a shepherd, or a manager, or worst case scenario, a hired hand that simply does what he is told…but in its spiritual definition…they actually do not want a leader.  They want a Leader as a Verb, but not a spiritually gifted leader.  The first is safe, the second is risky and dangerous.

Bill Hybels spoke up recently about leadership and the Church…here is a poster of what he said…

Now, please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that people without the spiritual gift of leadership should not lead a church.  I am simply asking us all to consider the fact that a church lead by a Leader, gifted with the Romans 12:8 spiritual gift leadership, will be a very different church than one lead by a shepherd, Teacher, Evangelist, a manager, or any other gift mix.

It seems obvious that each gift type grows a different type of fruit, and, not always but most of the time, a different size of harvest. I think many people are afraid to talk about why some churches are smaller than others.  If I could miraculously remove political correctness, insecurities, all sensitivities, and simply speak with impersonal facts…then the answer of why some churches reach mega amounts of people in a very short time, and others stay under 200 for hundreds of years, are mostly simple.

Some answers are as simple as the population of the city the church is geographically located in.  Other answers are found in a lack of strategy.  Most answers, in my opinion, are simply found in the Leadership and how he/she is spiritually gifted.  (In this setting, it would be very easy to use the parable of the talents that Jesus teaches.  Have we considered whether or not that parable could have been titled, The parable of the spiritually gifted?”   If you have time for more reading…then read the parable here and transpose the word ‘talents‘ with ‘spiritual gifts‘ and see if it makes sense. (In fact…depending on the translation, some translations use the word servants instead of the word talents.)  Here is the passage… Matthew 25:14-30

A church that is lead by a group of Elders will have a certain kind and amount of results/harvest.

A church that is lead by a shepherding gifted leader is typically going to have a smaller, very loving, intimate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a manager-type gifted pastor will have a unique, often corporate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a group of 5-10 high financially giving members holding the power will have a specific end-result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a teaching-gifted pastor is going to have a specific result/harvest.

They are all different.  Better or worse?  That’s for the eye of the beholder and ultimately for God to decide.

One thing that is very clear…a Church that is lead by a Leader who has the Romans 12:8 gift of Leadership is very obvious. Like it, love it, or hate it, that fact cannot be denied.

I think the passage below from Proverbs sums it up pretty well…think about it.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”  Proverbs 14:4

Our culture, for some safety reason, is afraid of strong leadership.  No doubt a strong leader will stir it up, break power controls, push us out of our comfort zones, and even sometimes make messes…but the fruit produced is tremendous.

Perry Noble said, “The size of the dream you have, is directly correlated with the amount of pain and suffering you are willing to endure.”  Solomon was right…the stable might get dirty, but wow…what a reward.

I know that we can agree that the Church is living in interesting times and facing difficult circumstances.  If Bill Hybels is right in his statement above, then there are some serious decisions that need to be made in The Church. If you are currently looking for a Lead Pastor, does your church have the courage to allow a leader, with the spiritual gift of leadership, lead you?  If so, get ready to begin an unforgettable adventure with a huge harvest of fruit on the way.


2034….next Christmas Full Moon

Christmas is a wrap. Did you notice we had a cool full moon for Christmas? WEB-VERSION-Christmas-Day-Full-Moon-PNG 

A full moon on Christmas won’t happen again for 19 more years…2034.  19 years!  

We might not be DOing the same things 19 years from now, we might not HAVE the same things 19 years from now…the only thing we can control is WHO we are 19 years from now.  

Who we are is more important that what we do or what we have. 

Will you aim to be devoted fully to the Lord until the next Christmas full moon?  We can’t control anything but our hearts and minds (and that’s a challenge in and of itself), so, in the next 19 years, let’s not get too caught up in business results and stressed goals…may the next 19 years be fruitful spiritually in our walk with The Creator of the full moon.  May we be STEADY people of God. The rest of things in life will happen, whether we want them to or not. I dare you to be crazy committed to Jesus until the next Christmas full moon.  Do that and then we’ll look back as rich-rich people and recalibrate for another long run.  Lord willing…I’ll be 64 then…how old will you be?  Here comes 2016…let’s get started!

Action steps

Read the Word of God daily.

Get a Bible reading plan and stick to it.

When daily reading…remember that the Bible is a Library, not just a book.  When reading in your library always ask these two questions, and then obey what you find out.  1.  God, what are you trying to say to me?  2. God, what do you want me to do about it?  

Ready…Set…Go! 🙂


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