Ephesians 3:14-20

13 Nov
14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom every familyin heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Leaning

22 Feb
Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

“Leaning On The Everlasting Arms”

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

by: Anthony J. Showalter and Elisha A. Hoffman

The Art of Going to Bed

20 Feb

I once heard a Pastor say that the trick to keeping a strong marriage was only 2 things – 1. Love God  2. Sleep naked.  Writing that makes me want to have t-shirts made with that slogan.  Love God & Sleep Naked.  But I digress.

What happens when you get married?  If you aren’t careful you can fall into a rut.  Before you know it you have a roommate, not a spouse.  Why?  Because you fail to set priorities to connect.  I always counsel in my pre-marital appointments to PRIORITIZE time together.  Set a date night.  Find time to just be together – without the kids, dog, iPhone, iPad, or iAnything.

One way you can accomplish this is simply by going to bed together.  I didn’t realize how unique it was to do this in a marriage.  We didn’t know any better!  Jennifer and I have always gone to bed at the same time.  But undoubtably, the night owl marries the ‘early to bed and early to rise.’  You are polar opposites trying to do life together.  But this simple act of going to bed together does a few things:

  • Promotes conversation.  I know I’m always trying to fall asleep and Jennifer decides to tell me her whole day.  But wives NEED this time to share.  Now you’re a captive audience.
  • Prevents separation.  I think it keeps you from becoming roommates.  Separation is not really great for a marriage, despite us saying that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’  Continual absence does not, however.
  • Protects purity.  There’s too much crap on TV now.  And if you are like most people you don’t have the computer in the bedroom.  Going to bed together keeps each of you from looking at smut while the other is asleep.
  • Prompts intimacy.  Its kinda hard to be ‘together’ when you’re not together!  I’m going to refrain from being too descriptive here.

I think this is one simple revolutionary idea that could really transform your marriage.  I know it requires a change in schedule.  But just commit to it and create a regular routine.  And start doing life together – including sleeping.  That whole naked thing is up to you.

Hold Your Tongue

17 Feb

I once went to dinner hosting a guest speaker.  He began to disparage a Pastor that we think of very highly and has invested in the ministry of Lifepoint considerably.  Having understood Honor as a church and living in that culture, I immediately shut him down and began to praise that particular Pastor and what he had done for us.

Fast forward a few years.  I’m at a conference and find myself looking at Pastors and labeling them.  That one is brash.  That one is prideful.  Who does he think he is wearing that outfit?

Fast forward a few years.  I’m sitting at a table with someone who is very influential in the church world who gets criticized.  1.  He is EXTREMELY humble and down to earth.  2.  I find myself saying ‘how did I get here?’  ‘What am I doing here?’  ‘I don’t deserve this!’

What is the point of these 3 stories?

  1. Story 1 – The criticizer knew nothing of the one he was criticizing.  He only… get this… perceived something.
  2. Story 2 – I, the criticizer, knew NOTHING of the ones I was criticizing.  And, being the criticizer, I knew I had an issue with insecurity.  So much easier to feel good about yourself when you are criticizing others.
  3. Story 3 – Usually people’s perception of others is wrong – including mine.  AND, I recognized my insecurity.

And that is when I felt God say – you look and think you see a bunch of overconfident, brash, and bragadocious people.  But I see people who are dealing with insecurity just as you are.

What’s the lesson?  If you are a criticizer, most likely you just need to deal with your own insecurities.  Quit worrying about everyone else.  Worry about yourself.  Also, encourage your leaders.  I think most of them are saying to themselves – ‘how did I get here?’  ‘What am I doing here?’ ‘I don’t deserve this!’

Hold your tongue.  You probably have no business being a critic.

Next post – Monday February 20th – The art of going to bed

When to Outsource

15 Feb

Personnel dollars is one of the most difficult decisions you will make when your church is growing.  Who do I hire?  How do I hire?  When do I hire?  How much do I pay them?  Are we being fair?  These are all very difficult questions and I doubt any church leader thinks they have this figured out to a ‘T’.  But there are ways to appear larger than you are as you grow and that is through Outsourcing.

How do you know when to outsource?  There are several reasons I choose to outsource:

  • To Learn – If we are doing something and can outsource it and LEARN in the process, we are getting more bang for our buck.  We are getting the job done AND we are getting an education.  Bookkeeping has been a recent venture in this area.  We have very clean books.  We do either a yearly review or audit by an external CPA firm.  But we knew we could learn some ‘best practices’ and hired an outside firm to do our bookkeeping.  It was a great decision and it did exactly what we needed it to do – teach us how we could be better.  This is usually MID-TERM to LONG-TERM.
  • Expand Capacity -  Growth is great and growth is chaotic.  Sometimes you just need a pressure release to get you through a season.  If you see your staff starting to look frazzled explore what you can outsource.  It is a great way to buy time and make a wise and prudent decision.  This is usually SHORT TERM.
  •  Need Expertise – You don’t know everything so just admit it.  We have saved thousands of dollars by paying someone who knows better than we do.  Can I talk to bankers?  Sure!  But there are others who live and breathe loans, rates, libor (whatever that means), etc.  And they can hang with the most intimidating banker negotiating a loan.  If it’s an important decision, look at bringing in bigger guns.  This is usually PROJECT SPECIFIC.
  • Special Skill Set – This may be a regular occurrence that simply needs a specific, specialized, hard-to-find skill.  This is usually REOCCURRING.
  • Need Wisdom – No this is not the same as ‘Need Expertise’ or ‘To Learn’.  Both of those the person is doing the work for you.  Here I’m talking consultants.  They come in with a ‘here’s what I think you should do’ or ‘here are the questions you need to be answering’ mindset.  BE CAREFUL in this realm.  We’ve hired consultants that didn’t have the DNA or understand our culture.  For instance we had someone tell us to wait to do something till next year.  We’re instead going to do it this quarter.  We knew our situation better than they did.  Good for us the advice was free.  This is usually PROJECT SPECIFIC.

Some of the areas we have either considered using or have used contract labor:

  • Graphic design
  • Video design
  • Audio Mixing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial Consulting
  • Church Growth Consulting
  • Church Health and Structure
  • Loan Placement
  • IT
  • Database management
  • Database reporting
  • Web Design
  • Musicians
  • Worship leading

Just a few more tips:

  • Network.  Find off the grid talent.  It’s a good way to ‘try out’ people that are interested in a long term relationship with your organization.  They are usually more flexible as well.
  • Free yourself.  Realize that outsourcing is not long term.  You don’t like something?  Make a switch.  It’s perfect for those of you who have commitment issues.

Next Post – Friday February 17th – Hold Your To Tongue

How I Spend Money

13 Feb

“You get what you pay for.”  Oh how I’ve learned that lesson.

Several years ago we took the staff to Catalyst in Atlanta, GA.  In the spirit of saving money, I booked us at a sub-par hotel.  Pastor and I were at a meeting when we got the call from the rest of the group.  This sub-par hotel was 1. not safe 2. not clean 3. not safe and 4. not clean.  One staffer said they’d sleep on the bed with their clothes on.  We went downstairs to check out and relocate to another hotel.  And, this is not a joke, a lady was asking if they rented the hotel by the hour.  If that wasn’t enough to get us to move I don’t know what would be.  So I learned my lesson.  Cheaper isn’t always better.  Here is how I decide to spend money:

  1. Price.  Yes price always plays a part.  We just initiated a policy that all capital expense requests (tangible assets over $500) must be accompanied by 3 quotes.  We want to do our homework and make sure we aren’t getting hosed.
  2. Quality.  I will gladly pay 30% more for a product if I get double the life span.  In my home finances I always research the mess out of a major purchase.  But we do have a history in my house of purchasing quality items that last a long time.  I’m still using my TV from 1998.  Still have the same washer and dryer from 2003.  Mower is 6 years old.  Vacuum is 6 years old.  You get the point.  I carry that philosophy over into the church world.  Quality over price.  You have a good chance of maximizing your dollar.
  3. Relationship.  We have some things I just won’t think about changing vendors.  Why?  Because we’ve built a trust relationship with them.  I am comfortable with them.  I know they will talk straight with me.  I know they will own up to their word.  I know they will make things right.  Do I push them on price?  Yup!  But they know my philosophy and what we are trying to accomplish at Lifepoint.  I’m more apt to spend more with a vendor if I know the quality of the relationship will be worth it.  You can usually get things done faster with a quality relationship.  And, we all know, time is money.  So in essence you are saving money in the long run!  Again, it’s about maximizing your dollar.

Hope this helps those of you in the church world.  If you are thinking strictly in dollars when it comes to purchases, there’s a chance your limiting your view and only looking at the short-term.  Look more to the long-term health of your ministry.  Remember, as church staff we have the responsibility to wisely steward every dollar that people have sacrificed and given.  Don’t EVER take that responsibility lightly.

Next Post: Wednesday February 15th – When To Outsource

Going Fishing

10 Feb

Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men.”

I think it is no coincidence that Jesus used that analogy.  Do you know someone who is really into fishing?  They have the boat, the hat, the rods, the reals, the tackle, the technique, their favorite fishing hole, they know the mind of a fish, and they’ll get up at 3 AM when the fishing is good.  Let’s look at the lessons learned from those fishing nuts:

  • They know know when and where the fish are biting.
  • They’ll continue trying different baits & lures.  In fact, they have an arsenal of options!
  • They are willing to get out when no one else is and go where no one else is going to catch the big one.
  • They are eternal optimists.  Even if they aren’t catching anything, they always have the attitude of ‘just one more cast; this cast could be the one.’

How does this apply to being fishers of men?  As a church I know that:

  • We have to know our community better than anyone.
  • We can’t be afraid to try different things.  The church world is always shifting.  Methods are always changing.  If something doesn’t work try something new.
  • Be willing to go where no one else is going and do what no one else is doing.
  • You always have to be optimistic.  Even if you aren’t catching anything, keep casting, keep trying.  You never know when Jesus will have you cast your net on the other side and you end up catching a boatload.
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