Category Archives: Thoughts and Ideas

Brian Tome @ Injoy Stewardship Conference

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This was the first time I had the opportunity to hear Brian speak…really strong stuff

The Art of Raising

Give everything away…capitalism runs against the values of the church and kingdom

You don’t serve people well by not asking them to do something difficult

Vision is recession proof…because no body wants their life to matter for nothing

1.  Lift the Weight of Spiritual Development

-spiritual development and financial giving are irrevocably connected

-it is the thermometer and the thermostat

-money is the fulcrum point of spiritual development…especially in america

-be known for being a great giving church

-the church is not a capitalist enterprise, it is a kingdom enterprise

2. Develop a Culture…Don’t Raise a Budget

-tithe and beyond as a leader (whatever you do sets culture)

-finances and giving should be in your regular preaching schedule

-give first time giver letters (thank them!)

-check on your leader’s giving

-do a year end celebration, or a year end ask

-paint a picture of the local church as the infrastructure for world change…captivate the imagination by being focused and specific on projects

-most people are clueless about how to be philanthropic…teach them

3. Give Yourself Grace

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John Maxwell @ Injoy Stewardship Conference

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“Put Your Dream to the Test”

“The more valid reasons you have to achieve your vision increases the odds you will”

Questions to ask myself about my vision…

1.  The Ownership Question (Is my dream really my dream?)

-all great visions have an owner

-am I a believer in my vision or a buyer? (you don’t own what you haven’t bought)

-if you bought it, you will be willing to bet on yourself

-go no further if you cannot answer yes

2. The Passion Question (Am I excited about what I am doing?)

-passion is a great energizer…i have never known a passionate person who lacked energy

-passion sets someone apart because the world is full of passionless people

-if you cannot get excited about where you are, you will not get excited about where you are going

3. The Cost Question (Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?)

-vision that is not realized is always about cost

-in the beginning dreams are free

-4 things to know about price:

*you will pay sooner than you think

*you will pay more than you think

*you will have to pay more than once (if you are good…only the lazy and ineffective pay once)

*it is possible to pay to high a price (marriage/family/health/values)

4. The Tenacity Question (Am I moving closer to my vision?)

-every time you stop your resources will stop

-remember that God gives resources to vision

-as I move toward vision, resources will move toward me

-you don’t fulfill vision, you are faithful to it

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Michael Vick: Faith or Football?

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Yesterday Michael Vick was given his second chance when he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.  The inevitable ensuing firestorm of criticism was unleashed before the ink dried on the contract.  Personally, I was thrilled to see him added to what appears to be a strong organization with a mindset to welcome him, encourage him, and keep him accountable.

Let me make three things clear about my perspective/worldview and then give my singular reason for being happy for Vick…

1. I do not in any way shape or form condone what Vick did.  It was a series of brutal acts and decisions that rightly placed him in prison

2.  I am bothered by the hypocrisy of “tolerance” in our society.  The emperor clearly has no clothes.  The truth about tolerance is that it is “live and let live” unless you kill dogs and then it is good luck finding a job a Burger King, and don’t let the door hit ya.   It is another example that tolerance is not the goal, but a shift in values.  It is as aggressive and narrow minded as any other set of values, but is for now accepted under the deceptive name of tolerance.  Many gladly watched as Vick achieved idolotrous status playing a game.  No one considered his character.  No one required integrity of him.  He was a commodity.  When the bottom fell out of his life, and his stock went from bull to bear, we suddenly require of him what we have never required.  The deification of athletes in this country makes many outcries for moral justice laughable.  Let’s admit what it is: the golden calf broke in front of us, and when our idols show themselves to be flesh and blood instead of heroic providers of entertainment and cold hard cash we feel like we have egg on our face.

3.  We are to care for all of God’s creation.  It is a mandate given by God since the garden.  BUT, when you are willing to damn people because of creation, dogs or otherwise, something has gone wrong.

The reason for my happiness is very simple.  I am a follower of Jesus.  The basis of that relationship is very simply his grace and mercy.  It is necessary for me to admit that although I have never run a dog fighting business, my sin is no less despicable to God.  I deserved and deserve judgment and justice, but I was given grace and hope.  These truths are called the gospel, and represent the fact that God is presently busy redeeming all creation back to Himself.

I am thrilled for Vick because I love stories of redemption.  I am thrilled for Vick because I love 2nd and 3rd and 4th chances, and find myself as the continual recipient of chances from my God.  I am thrilled for Vick because if you or I found ourselves looking back at decisions we made that were horrific, and despicable, the only hope we would have is to find grace in people’s eyes.  As a Christian, having received grace, I am not able, perhaps even not allowed to refuse another that grace.  To force someone to live in, and wallow in their shame in the name of justice served by those will quickly forget his misdeeds after the first touchdown he scores in the playoffs has a very crooked feeling as a human being, and a very heretical feel as a follower of Jesus.

The base truth is that Vick should be given grace by you and I, but he shouldn’t need it.  Justice was served.  He went to prison after trial by his peers.  The system worked.  He lost everything.  It is time to take your foot off of his throat.  Call it grace, call it justice, call it redemption.  But by all means do not feel full of vigor and morality when you make statements saying he should never be able to do this or that again…it doesn’t often represent a upright or just place, as much as does ignore a hypocrisy that we are free to speak of because we have never found ourselves in need of grace from a set of stranger the world over like Vick does.

Jesus said you can boil it all down to two things it is imperative all people do:

1. Love God

2. Love your neighbor as yourself.  How would you like to be loved if you were Vick?

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Is It Wrong to Kill a Doc Who Does Late Term Abortions?

The above probably seems like an odd question to some, but I keep running across alot of opinions about abortion, and how to interact with those who provide them

Sometimes as I write this blog I do so to inform, get a laugh, or to connect…

other times is in hopes of a good conversation stemming from intentional thought

Thinking, not reacting

Abortion is a topic that incites reaction.  It is emotional…painful…theological…political…personal

Because of this, the question I pose above may at first seem obvious to some

In the name of justice or freedom, decency or morality, you might have formed an opinion…reacting

We unfortunatley live in a world where most of us know someone who has had an abortion or has been affected by one

I feel like the church must be very thoughtful about these types of issues.  The thought must stem from a deeply theological place.  A place where God’s heart, chracter, and will dictate who we are and what we believe.

No matter what side of the issue you stand on, most agree abortion is a horrible thing.  If you disagree you are an idiot.  I spend several months doing counseling at a pregnancy center a few years ago. It was heart breaking.  When a fifteen year old comes in intending to get her third abortion from a pregnancy with a 16 year old sophomore something has gone very wrong a long time ago.  To sit and listen to the story of these lives creates the feeling of someone tying a rock to your back and then sitting on your chest.

Abortion is easy in a church sanctuary, or congressional hall.  Unfortunately this is where most of our policies are formed.  Abortion is horribly hard when you are sitting across from a 17 year old boy who dropped out of high school and with tears streaming down his face explains that he has no idea what he is going to do, and has no father around to teach him how to be a daddy.

Let me be clear.  I consider myself pro-life.  I believe God has a plan for the person forming in the womb of a mother.  But let me be equally clear.  I think abortion is a profoundly complicated issue.  More complicated than many ascribe.  The victims of abortion are many, and sometimes the baby is not the only one who is defenseless.

I want to link to a post that I found incredibly interesting…

It is written  Penelop Trunk. She is a successful business women who posted about the two abortions she chose.  I found the post incredibly courageous in light of the vulnerability in created for her.  To date there are 482 comments on the post…equally interesting, although some were just plain stupid.  I commented, identifying myself as a pro life pastor, and offering my thanks for her courage in the post.  She emailed me to thank me for the post and said she often gets pastors commenting anonymously giving her a piece of their mind and what I can only assume they believe to be true.  It broke my heart to think that pastors saw fit to anonymously offer scorn…it is cowardly.  The post created in me an understanding that this issue will require a great deal of courage to address.  Courage is something the church should have in great measure.

To answer my title question…YES.  Of course it is wrong.  Are you kidding me?  The man who blew away Dr. Tiller isn’t a hero, he is a murderer.  God doesn’t use redemptive violence. He uses the gospel to redeem!! I recently read an article that was linked in a blog about the last remaining, well known abortionist in our country.  His name is Warren Hern and he rides around with three US marshals in bullet proof cars.  Those he needs protection from are in large part people who claim Jesus as their Savior.  People who claim to be saved by the grace of God when they were vile, depraved, and wicked.  People who claim the love of Jesus was greater than their sin and redeemed them from it.  These people are reacting, and in their reaction they feel justified in their joy that a man saw fit to make himself the judge of another and put a bullet in his head.  If they were to stop and think they would see the great and jaded hypocrisy of their faith.  Grace is not fair, it is scandalous in the most violent and mind bending kind of way.  Have the courage to to show it

Grace and Peace-TD

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Should Church Buildings Be Better?

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I came across an article today highlighting some of the most creative buildings in the world…

There was a gas station covered with crochet, an office building that used light reflection to make it appear confetti was flying out of the window, and a building that had huge tentacles coming out of the windows. You couldn’t have missed any of these buildings because of their profound creativity…and you wouldn’t have wanted to.

I remember coming across an NT Wright article some time ago in which he was lamenting the lack of creativity in our church buildings.  His case was that the older generations of building were intended to, and largely accomplished an almost worshipful presentation to God by displaying creativity and art from the church.  He felt (as I do) that the church was to be a leader in the arts, and that our buildings were to clearly express our intent to offer God (and the surrounding community) our very best artistic effort. (in this case through architecture)

The counter argument is obviously that the church is not brick and mortar, but flesh and blood.  Investing in and creating an ediface of beauty and value may communicate, albeit inadvertantly, a “come to us”, “come to church” inward focus.  It would obviously take a great deal of effort and money, all of which could be used to serve and reach your context and community.

What do you think?

Should the church work to present more creativity and beauty in its architecture?

Or should we opt of of the building projects, simply find a suitable space, and use the remaining assets to serve and reach?

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Thinking about life and death courtesy of Michael Jackson

Everywhere I have looked over the past week or so I have seen information about Michael Jackson…his death, his life, the accusations…

My man was a musical genius, no doubt about it (I am going with “Billie Jean” as my favorite)

And no one, NO ONE danced like MJ (2 words: moon walk)

With all of the sales, and all of the awards, and all of the genius that he undeniable possessed, there is still the issue of 27 million dollars in pay outs for allegedly acting unacceptably and inappropriately with children.  

The end of the story is that I hope MJ had made Jesus King of his life before he drew his last breathe, but as for his life, he has me thinking:

Would I rather be known for my craft, or my character?

What skill, talent, or gift will people have to point to in an attempt to justify a lack of or question of my character?

Would I be OK with never being known for a teaching I gave, a book I wrote, or an investment I made…but being known as a man of integrity?

Even further, would I be OK with being known as a minimally talented man of high character?

Proverbs 22:1-A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…

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Charles Colson’s Integrity Accountability

As the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges, Chuck Colson learned the need for accountability the hard way. Now, as the founder and chairman of the board of Prison Fellowship ministries, he meets regularly with a small group of men. At their meetings, they ask each other the following seven questions:

 

1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?
2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?

5. Have you given priority time to your family?
6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?
7. Have you just lied to me?

 


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