Monday, February 27, 2012


Yesterday was a sermon about the encouragement the Antioch church received from the letter written by the apostles and elders from the Jersusalem church. This word "encourage" means "to call beside"'s very, "we're in this together" and "lean on me" in it's meaning. The church is a place of encouragment and I can testify that I am who I am today because of so many encouraging voices:

My first and second grade Sunday school teacher (Avis Milford) encouraged me to love the Bible and learn it. Now in her mid 80's she still writes me a hand-written letter of encouragement everytime I write an article for the Christian Standard.

My mom encouraged me to truly love and serve people. I don't really live up to her standards of loving others, but I her encouragement to love is deep within me.

My dad encouraged me to preach the Word and to be optimistic (which I hope is truly faith, lived out). I don't remember exact conversations, but I know we had them about preaching and before he passed on, I'm sure he was my biggest fan.

My wife has encouraged me for the past 28 years. Even before we were married. She told me early on that she thought God was going to do something great in my life...and her consistent (sometimes loud and sometimes gentle:-) words of encouragement have carried me many times.

My staff encourages me almost daily. There are not many weeks where someone on my staff doesn't tell me that they appreciate being on this team and working together in the Lord. I'm blessed by their words....they inspire me to do greater service for God and make me want to be a better shepherd.

The elders encourage me. The men who I serve with as shepherd/leaders here constantly send me e-mails thanking me for preaching or leadership. NOTE: they also speak truthfully and lovingly about my weaknesses, but we love each other that much.

The people of Eastview encourage me. Even though I told people yesterday that I was not asking for encouragement from them, I have already received 5 encouraging e-mails this morning!

What's the point? The point is that all the stuff I am able to do by God's grace and His Spirit's power in my ministry has been strengthened by the Christian steroid (listen to yesterday's sermon for explanation) called ENCOURAGEMENT! So here are some questions for you to ponder: 1. Who encouraged and encourages you ....return the encouragement
2. Who around you could be so much better for God if you would encourage them?
3. Who has great potential but just needs a word of encouragement?
4. Who is about ready to quit, but a word from you would keep them going?

Answer the questions and then live out I Thessalonians 5:11 today.

Monday, February 20, 2012

more accountability

Accountability was the topic in yesterday's sermon and I failed to mention my number one accountability wife Sara. I believe this is the way it should be in a Christian marriage. We are in life (and for us ministry) "til death do us part", and so we owe it to each other to answer for all areas of our journey together. Money...I don't (and can't) spend any money without her knowing about it. Time...she has access and changing rights to my calendar...her emergency is always my emergency. Attitude...she speaks into my life about how I'm living out the Christian life (she has seen my very best and very worst attitudes...she's not afraid to tell me when I'm out of line believe me...and I welcome it..sort of). Spiritul life...she holds me accountable for comments, life stuff and goals I may have that seem to her out of whack with my faith. So, I have more accountability than I mentioned in the sermon starts at home.

But I do have "Timothys" - people in my life who are younger and in the same line of work as I am...I gravitate towards young preachers trying to give them whatever wisdom I have.

I do have "Barnabi" (That's plural Barnabus') - Guys who will laugh and cry with me, pray with me, fight me and fight for me...This relationship takes time because it takes a proven track record and trust...I have five in my life right now locally and many pastor friends throughout the country who serve in this capacity.

I do have a "Paul" - someone who has complete right and permission to ask me anything and probe any attitude. I have had exactly three of these in my life and my current "Paul" is awesome...wouldn't want to do life without him.

I guess what I'm saying is I want accountability, so I look for it...even pursue it...because accountability helps me grow.

Monday, February 13, 2012


At the annual sr. Pastors conference I attend this week in San usual our attempts to be somewhere warm during the winter months has failed (it was 35 degrees this morning as I ran!). But I have already had breakfast with some great ministry friends...catching up on what God is doing in each others lives and churches. God is at work all over the place and it is humbling to be a part of His kingdom. I can't't tell you what it's like to chat with guys who do what I do. These guys understand the pressures, leadership challenges, and nuances of leadership that come from being a Sr. pastor...easy to relate to and a great place to be challenged.

Pray for me on Wednesday...I'll be leading the session on maintaining balance in life and ministry. This is one of the hazards of our calling as get so busy working for God, that you neglect family, friends, and even God Himself! So, I'm going to talk about examples of leading for God while balancing family (there are no good examples in Scripture, believe it or not) we'll have to learn from bad examples and each other's experience. I'll conclude with a panel discussion of ministry couples from all stages of experience and life and then lead table discussions on this important topic.

Ultimately, this discussion embodies what this conference is all about: Talking to someone who knows where you're coming from...listening to the wisdom of others who are on the journey, and encouraging each other to keep going in the strength of the Lord.

Monday, February 6, 2012

what I think about preaching

Yesterday we preached about preaching and it's importance to the ongoing growth (numeric and spiritual) from Acts 5 and 11. As usual some stuff I write and think about in the office doesn't make it to the finished here are some things that I deeply believe about preaching that will give insight as to why I preach the way I do at Eastview:
1. The Bible is powerful, lifechanging, convicting, encouraging, etc.... Therefore the thoughts of the sermon, words of the sermon, and point of the sermon must come from what the Bible actually says.
2. Preaching through whole books of the Bible keeps me honest in addressing the whole word of God and not just my favorite parts. By preaching through Deuteronomy, Luke, Acts, and heading into Genesis, I am dealing with texts that many have never heard sermons on before...and you know what...they are awesome teachings from the Word.
3. Preaching over the long haul makes more of a difference than one great sermon. My desire is to preach weekly with passion, spiritual insight, and hard work so that over a period of time God grows us through a consistent diet of his word. To me, the "that sermon was awesome" is a spiritual steroid...only several years of a steady diet of preaching will make the body the preachers job is to just keep feeding the bread of life.
4. Preaching is an individual event for the specific audience it is delivered to. I believe that the Holy Spirit moves in each speaking of the sermon to each audience involved as HE wishes. This means that while the sermon may be the same, the third service sermon may be a bit different from the first service sermon. I think this incarnational approach to preaching is best...a real live human, speaking to other real humans the real live Word of God.
5. Preaching is a gift that God has given to people within His church from the very beginning. It is good to remember that preaching is one of many spiritual gifts and is not more important than the others, however, it is crucial to inspire, instruct, convict, motivate, and exhort those of hte body who have other spiritual gifts. So, preaching is not more important than mercy, but preaching may inspire those with the mercy gift to use their gift more effectively.
6. Preaching is where the best leadership takes place. I think that I have a leadership gift, but more I think I'm a preacher and that my best visionary leadership comes from preaching the Word. There are some who complain about not being able to lead their leaders or congregations to go in certain spiritual places. I always respond, "If this is a God's vision, why not preach them there?"
7. Preaching is an honor and a burden. It is hard work and incredible fun. To preach means to carry the burden of communicating on behalf of God and it is the privilege of saying, "Thus sayeth the Lord." Those who don't preach would be surprised at two things: It is so hard it can give you a headache and even old guys like me still get nervous AND it is so fun, there are not many things in life I would rather do.
8. Preaching is definitely affected by the listeners. I am privileged to preach in a setting where people are ready (even anxious) to hear the word of God...this makes it so much easier. Of course, there are those who aren't listening, don't want to listen and can't listen because of distractions, but the influence of listeners around them draw them into the teaching. It is amazing to watch even as I'm preaching.