Thursday, May 26, 2011

Am I Simon the Sorcerer?

I recently went to Catalyst, a conference for Christian leaders. I enjoy these types of conferences because they can energize you and give you some new ideas. This one was no different. The theme was "Take Courage" and I am at a place in my life and ministry where I need to hear that message. I was in need of some energy and fresh life in my soul. It provided that.

Today, in reading in Acts 8, I came across the story of Simon the Sorcerer. He practiced sorcery and boasted that he was someone great. When Philip came to town, Simon was amazed at the miracles he was performing. Then when Peter and John came to town and prayed and laid hands on the people so the Spirit would come on the people of Samaria, Simon tried to buy the gift. Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God."

There was the "Ouch!" in my soul.

I just spent $500 out of pocket to go to a conference hoping that in some way it would help bring about the work of the Spirit to the Body here at WestWay. I hoped that in some way the miraculous work of leadership displayed by Andy Stanley, Mark Batterson, David Platt, etc., could be passed on to me and I would be able to do these amazing things.

I feel like I spent $500 and 5 days seeking the wrong things. Mind you, this is just me talking. I'm sure many leaders attended and do attend with right hearts that are fully set on Christ and relying on His power. I could have stayed home, completely immersed myself with the Word and prayer and then maybe come away with what God wants for this ministry here and how He plans to accomplish it.

There is a lot of talk here on the leadership team about working according to the Spirit. What is of God and what is of me? To tell you the truth, it's really hard for me to differentiate. It's a hard area for me to figure out. I have a good handle of what is of God from a Scriptural point of view, but to be led by His Spirit, it's hard for me to grasp, or feel, or know the specifics of that. On the other side of that, obviously there has to be some sort of effort on our part as far as ministry and Kingdom work go.

All this to say...make sure your heart is right before God. One of the encouragements we received from the conference was from Mark Batterson. He said this, "Don't worry about working for the miracles. All you can control is whether you are living a life consecrated to Jesus Christ."

That'll be $500 please. :D

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Catalyst Labs- May 11

I'm in Dallas, TX this week for a leadership conference called Catalyst. This is my second time in Texas that I can remember. I am here with three friends; Mike Andrews, Jon Arnold, and Ted Grant.

We had the pre-conference labs today and already there are lots of ideas flowing and swirling around in my mind. One of the issues I always have with these conferences is how do I take what I'm hearing and apply it to real life, life in western Nebraska with the Church Body at WestWay? I don't have all the right answers for that at this point, but at least I'm thinking right?

Our friend Rodd Hall has informed me that I'm not tweeting my conference finds enough today, so I write this blog to make up for that. Here are some of the things I heard today.
  1. Let scripture, not culture, dictate your relationships.
  2. Don't build a city in your city. Engage it!
  3. Push back the darkness where your life exists. (in connection with rehabilitating your city)
  4. Transformational leadership always requires significantly more than you have because God wants to restore His wonder in you.
  5. Every opportunity that you face has an expiration date...and often missing out will cost you more than messing up.
  6. What if the church set an expiration date for itself? Self-preservation would not be an issue. We would be free to set out and do what we set out to do.
  7. Transformational leadership requires God-sized obedience, not me-sized solutions.
  8. A leader's job is to reveal possibility. Other people are always defining reality.
  9. Transformational leadership does not rely on answers, but on God's promises.
  10. Does your vision add up? If it does, it is too small.
  11. Don't let budget determine your vision.
  12. If you want God to come out of nowhere and do the miraculous, consecrate yourself and continually submit yourself to seeking and being obedient.
  13. Don't worry about working for the miracles. All you can control is whether you are living a life consecrated to Jesus.
There are some of the thought morsels and nuggets I took away from the pre-conference labs. I'm excited to see how God will work through some of these things.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." John 12:25-26 Ouch. That's the first word that came to my mind after reading this passage this afternoon. Not the playful "ouch" delivered with a half-smirk, but and "ouch" that stems from deep in my soul as the Spirit grabs my ears and makes me stare straight ahead at truth. As I look at my life, (the things I have, the things I do, how I spend my time and money, my thought life, the many comforts I surround myself with) I come to one conclusion: I LOVE MY LIFE! Now as I say that, those who are close to me know that outwardly I haven't shown that I love my life over the past 6 years as I struggle with the dark night of the soul, but the self-satisfying that goes on in my life is the tell-tale sign that I TRULY LOVE MY LIFE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. MY LIFE is where I put the majority of my time. MY COMFORT is where I place the most emphasis with my energies and finances. I have to "hate my life in this world". I don't need to walk around and live a depressed, suicidal existence, I don't believe for a minute that is what Jesus is teaching. Rather make your life, your comforts, and your needs secondary. Don't love the comforts of your life so much that you fail to give of yourself completely for the sake of eternity. Don't be afraid of rejection. Don't make excuses for not taking care of the needy when you have Dish and eat out all the time. Don't allow your "down" time or "me" time to get in the way of you serving and ministering to those who desperately need the love of a Savior. DON'T! Later in John chapter twelve, we see a group of leaders that have fallen into this trap, the trap of loving their own lives more..."Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God." (v.42-43) God, help me to hate my life on this planet. Help me to love You more. Help me to disregard the praise of men, the selfish urges, the comforts...for Your praise.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Confessions of a Fat Man Two (A Lesser Man)

On January 4th I wrote a blog, "Confessions of a Fat Man" in which I described my life and feelings as a fat man and basically let you all know that I was sick of it and doing something about it.

This is an update. I can't say that it is without pride and boasting that I post this, because there is a little of that here. I can say that part of my posting this information is for accountability purposes.

On Monday, January 3rd, 2011 I signed up for Weight Watchers for Men Online. I chose Weight Watchers because they teach you healthy, balanced eating and portion control, along with a steady regimen of daily exercise.

I had tried Weight Watchers before from hand-me-down materials my mother and friends had given me. It would work and then after 3 months I would quit. ( I say three months because that is the longest I ever lasted)

This time seems different to me. I am committed to taking off the weight and being healthy. There is a resolve that is God-given...a self-control given by the Spirit, that is allowing me to commit to this and get things done.

As of Monday, April 11th, I have lost 51 pounds! I can tell a little bit of a difference around various parts of my body and can feel a bit more energy. My ultimate goal is to get down around 225 pounds. I still have a long road ahead of me and many more pounds to shed.

I share this and get this out in the open because I do want to continue and need you to bug me about it now and again to make sure I'm doing it.

Again, I'll ask you to raise one of your 8 daily glasses of water...Here's to healthy living!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It Hurts

It hurts me to lead.
It absolutely kill me to make a decision.
I don't want to make a decision too quickly.
I will appear arrogant and pushy.
I don't want to make a decision too slowly.
I will look slow and stupid.
There is a lot less anxiety in my life this week.
The reason, I don't have to lead anything on Sunday.
I have tried to pinpoint the reasons why leading is so tough for me.
A few reasons have come to mind.
One, I am afraid to fail.
Two, I am afraid to look foolish.
Three, I have a really low self-esteem.
Four, I am positive that leadership is not my gift.
Five, I do not want to be responsible for the outcome.
Six, I am lazy.
This sucks because I am expected to lead.
I am in a position to lead.

No one is following.

I am successful at not leading.
I can feel good about something.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Me in a Singlet?

“I will stand on the Solid Rock. I believe if I feel it or not. Word of God come and fill my heart. I am Yours. Take control!”

That is the refrain from one of my favorite praise songs called, Solid Rock. It captures where my heart and life are often at, a spiritual wrestling match between what I know is true of the spiritual realm, and the reality of this world. I often get sucked in to the day-to-day of this world and turn my focus from Christ and on to whatever is going on in my life.

That was the case this last week as I wrestled and struggled with many of my insecurities, fears and failures. I let Satan have a foothold with my emotions and he ran me around and had me feeling completely worthless to the point of begging God to take my life to escape from this world. I know, it’s highly dramatic, but true. It was a rough week for me emotionally and spiritually and I know most of you have probably been through the same thing at one or more points in your lives.

It is at these low points in our lives where we must endure and stand firm on the Solid Rock of Christ that we know to be true. When God seems far away and quiet we have to remain faithful to what we know is the truth of His Word. We have to give permission to, and allow, God to speak through our Brothers and Sisters into our lives. We have to intensify our search for God, knowing that we have the promise of finding Him.

God, fill our hearts! We are Yours! Take control!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The One Talent Loser

Today I am feeling like a one talent loser. I speak of the parable of the talents in which several individuals were given charge of their master's wealth while he was away. Two of the individuals did well with their master's wealth and earned him double what they were given. The master was happy and gave them charge of more. The individual who received the least of the wealth was afraid to do anything with the wealth and buried it in the ground to keep it safe. When the master returned he was furious because the servant did nothing with the wealth. The master called the servant wicked and lazy and cast him out into the darkness.

Today I am feeling like that servant.

I don't know if it is true or merely my recollection, but I remember myself being much more creative, fearless, full of joy and life and one point and time. I remember being invigorated by the thought of having the opportunity to serve in ministry and the challenge of leading people closer to Christ. I remember having ideas flowing through my mind constantly.

Over the past six years I have given myself to laziness, anger, gluttony, selfishness and rage. I have not been what I desire to be or what the Lord desires me to be. I read this parable of the talents and I think about my life and ministry now. It's joyless, apathetic, without passion and vision, my mind can't concentrate on one thing long enough to accomplish anything. I wonder if I am the one talent loser. I know I have definitely been afraid to move, to act, to try due to a wide range of fears and insecurities.

Days like today I am definitely feeling like I've been cast out into the darkness. The scripture does not speak of it, but I wonder if there is redemption for the one talent loser. Does he get a second chance?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Confessions of a Fat Man

I am obese. I'm tired of being obese. I'm trying to do something about it. I like food. I believe I have sometimes idolized food. I love to eat, especially late at night in front of the T.V. I hate exercise. My six-year-old daughter tells me at least once a week that I should exercise so I won't be fat anymore. I believe people look at me differently because I am obese. I have hindered myself with many opportunities because of my weight. I hate flying because of my weight. The arthritis in my knees and ankles make it hard for me to exercise. I believe my lack of self-control in the area of food is a sin. I dislike that my children want me to do all these activities with them but I can't, or won't, because I don't have the energy. I began a healthy eating plan yesterday to help me lose weight. I need to lose about half of myself in weight to be in the zone that the medical field considers to be healthy. I will spare you the shirtless before and after photos. I wasn't always obese. The weight really began to take off after I moved from home and started eating out more and not taking the time to cook for myself. God has given me satisfaction with the food that I've eaten the past day-and-a-half. I have a long road ahead of me.

Raise one of your 8 daily glasses of's to healthy living!