Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post Christmas Shopping

Autumn and I had a date last night. Like any romantic couple with kids, we went shopping. This is what we saw...what a world we live in!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

For those of you who haven't seen this...enjoy! For those of you who is worth watching again.

To all: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Facing the Giants - Part 3

It is time for the third installment of my first attempt at a series of blogs. As I was thinking about what to write, I was thinking about the movie. I then decided I wanted to talk about conquering fears. So I guess I will give it my best.

Once again, this is an interactive blog, so view the video, and then come back and read the rest of the blog:

As I prepare to start "tackling" the Welcome Ministries, my biggest problem is fear. I understand (even blogged) that God is in control. If we give him our wholeheart and commit to doing our best that all will be good. However, there is still fear.

My friend Ron has stepped up with our helping hands ministry, and he is taking it to new levels. I know that he is clearly seeking God in the process, if you are not sure, just read his blog. My other friend, Jon, has heard God's vision for the Creative Arts of our church and he is starting to go in new directions, and it is being well received.

I, of course, want to see that same kind of "success" in my ministry. I am praying and I am seeking God...but I am still scared.

I recently read Max Lucado's book, Facing your Giants, as well as watched the movie for which this blog is about. The best way to describe what I walked away with is something from the clip above. If you watch it again, you will see right before he kicks the ball, after the pep talk, after seeing his dad stand-up for him, he says a small prayer to God asking for help with the kick.

That is the key. I know I have said it before...but sometimes I need to rehear it over and over.

Football players practice every day, run plays, condition physically. When serving in ministry we should be doing the same thing...praying daily, Seeking God, conditioning our hearts and minds. During the game, though, the football team still communicates their plays and the coach tells them what to do throughout the game. No matter how much they practice and learn plays, they still need someone guiding them during the game. The same goes for us, even when we are prayed up, have heard a vision from God, we still need someone "coaching" us during game time.

That person is God, and the only way he can do that, is by us talking to him directly throughout the "game". I guess I just need to figure out how to get that through my thick skull...condition daily for the "game"...and when it is time, start talking with God so he can coach me through it!

Christmas at my Mom's

Can you understand why I enjoy hanging at my mom's, especially when you wake up to a view like this? It is pictures like this (which of course doesn't do justice) that make me wonder how anyone can doubt the presence of God.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Facing the Giants - Part 2

There is no order or theme to these blogs. As I come across a clip from the movie, or as I reflect on what I watched I will randomly send something out. I say that to explain why this next clip is completely different from the last clip. However, after reading my friend Ron's blog today, I felt like this fit well with the theme that we have all been blogging about.

With that said, it is time for another interactive blog. View the video and then return for the rest of the blog:

The verse that the coach refers to in the movie can be found in Matthew. In the NLT version, vs. 14 states, "...But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." The part of that I want to focus on is in the middle of that verse..."the road is difficult".

I talked last about giving our whole heart, which was something that the young kicker in this clip needed to learn as well. However, the reality is that even when we give our whole heart, even when we do as the Lord commands, EVEN when we are seeking God every day...the road is difficult.

Often times, I think I forget that. When things get tough, I think where is God in this. When I am frustrated...where is God? When things didn't go as I planned...where is God? As I have heard Pastor Dave say many times, being a Christian isn't easy. My friend Ron blogged the other day about sharing our faith in Christ with others, and how difficult that can be. It is often times easier to stay quiet then to stand out and stand up boldly for our faith.

Although I agree with Ron in that area, I want to focus on the simpler every day struggles. Just getting up for work in the morning, making it through a day of work, coming home having energy for the family, and then as time permits work on our ministries.

Life would be so much easier if we could just spend all our time working on our ministry and seeing people come to Christ. However, I don't think that is what God wants. As we have all heard, if life was easy we wouldn't need to rely on God.

I read a blog today that shared a statistic that amazed me. It said that 21% of Protestant Ministers pray less than 15 minutes a day. In addition, almost 100% pray less than 1 hour a day. I realize that pastors can be very busy, and in no way am I infering that they are not Godly men. However, what scares me is where I fit in that statistic, as a lay ministry volunteer. I am right in the bottom of the list.

I do go through spurts of time when I do real well and spend a fair amount of time (30min - 1 1/2 hour) a day in prayer. However, most of the time, I spend less than 15 minutes a day in prayer. I am not talking about the meal prayers, good night prayers, etc. I am referring to the quietness that we go to when we need to speak and hear from God.

It is no wonder that life is so difficult. How could I possibly get through a day, when I can't even take the time to allow God to direct me through it. Well, I don't know the answer, but at least I know what I need to work on!

How's your prayer life?

Guess Who!

All I am going to say is this....we should always be cautious about the impossible!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Facing the Giants - Part 1

After recently watching the movie, Facing the Giants, I have decided to put my Welcome Series of Blogs on hold and spend a few days sharing some thoughts from the movie. As the opportunity arises, I will even include some clips from the movie to help with my point.

Here is the first clip. This is an interactive blog. View the clip and then return for the rest of the blog:

So what did you think? Some of you have probably already seen the movie so you are familiar with the clip. Yet, how true is it. In many cases we give up in life or we give up in a situation, because we see it as impossible. Pastor Dave spoke this last sunday about Hope. We cannot even go 1 second without Hope. Yet, we can live our entire life in discouragement.

I believe that much like Brock, I tend to look at some situations as impossible. I am convinced I am going to fail before even trying and so I choose to not try. I do not give God a chance to do greatness through me...if I only would give him my whole heart. If you study the great church planters of today, or para-ministry leaders, you find that it wasn't that they had all the right skills. They weren't invincible. In fact, many of them are scared. The reality is they had simply made a choice to take what the Lord has called them to do, and give it their whole heart and let God do the rest.

Romans 8:28 helps us to understand this concept. We may not always know the reason for the situation, or why we are where we are at. God may have a plan far greater than our ability to comprehend. However, our part is to give Him our whole heart and allow him to do the rest.

As the movie shows, anything is possible when our Heart is in it...

The Things in Life we take for granted!

I was driving this morning, and noticed a man walking with, what appears to be, his son. However, as I approached them, I realized that the son is not holding the hand of his father; rather he has his hand in the back pocket of the father's pants. If you look really close, you will notice that is because the man has no left arm.

We all know someone with a disability or handicap, maybe a missing limb, a lost sense, a crippling disease. How often, though, do think about the real impact that has on their life.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to not be able to hold my son's hand as we walk. To not have the ability to wrap my arms around my wife and kids and give them a big hug when I get home. I honestly can say I don't know what that would feel like.

I can say what it feels like to come home and complain about not getting the raise I expected...or complain about someone else parked in my spot, or how much it cost to fix the roof! Especially at this time of year, with the pressure of gifts, buying presents, who do I buy for, who do I send cards to?

Today, I am going to stop and take the time to hug my family and I assure you I will be greatful for the ability to do! Further I will be thankful for everything I do have!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Simply Complicated: Unanswered prayers?

I came across a friend of mine, Ron, who began blogging with us in blogger. If you start at the beginning, he will try and tell you he is not an intellectual writer...let me say this, anyone who opens up their heart and shares their desires to serve Christ through humility...can be nothing but eloquant and intellectual. Here is a link to his most recent post. Read it and you will see for yourself how great it is. He is now on my rss reader!

Simply Complicated: Unanswered prayers?


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sippin' Coffee Thoughts!

Sittin' at St. Arbucks sippin' coffee, does it get much better then that?

Of course it does!

Getting Married…Having Children...and...uhh…Eternal Salvation through a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

I blogged the other day about evaluating our selfishness and monitoring the time we give to God. Yet even after writing that and thinking about it, I sit here drinkin' my coffee. Sure I could call this my quiet time and in many aspects it is. It is quiet time away from the normal hustle and bustle, and location is not important if it is "quality" time...or I do better with noise around me. These are all valid justifications.

However my point is this, even in our quiet time with Christ, how often is that time still self-focused? I was talking with my friend Jon (probably the only one who reads my blog) about this concept. That all to often, especially task-oriented people like myself, we “schedule” time with the Lord in our calendar. We then develop our list of items to be covered during this “meeting”:

• Worship God
• Thank God for the things in my life
• Share my needs with God
• Ask for His direction
• Hear from God

Just follow the list and I will have a perfect quiet time with God.


God wants us to come to Him, and yes we can share our heart’s desires, or needs. Yet as scripture says, our Lord is a selfish God. He does not want to share us with any other gods...even if that other god is ourselves. There are times when we need to sit in total humility, in complete silence, and allow our Lord to do the talking. We need to thank Him for who He is, and not for what He has done in OUR lives. We need to make it all about Him!

My challenge to myself and to you, is to spend a little time tonight in total humility...allowing it to be all about NOT me! May the Lord speak volumes to both of us this evening!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

What is your selfishness score?

Have you ever sat back and looked at yourself to determine just how selfish you are? I try not to do this that often, because sometimes I don't like what I see. However, the best thing I can do, though, is test myself daily.

Ahh, but Jason I am not selfish. I do lots of unselfish things. So do I...but on what conditions are those things done?

I like to think that I do a lot of selfless acts; and I do. As long as they are done on the conditions that I most cases. I love to help people...when it doesn't interfer with my plans. I love to give money to a special need...when I have some left over. I enjoy teaching a class, as long as it is on a night I have free.

You may be saying Jason you are being to hard on yourself (or maybe your not!). The reality is that this is not always the case, and I don't always think this way. However, it does happen, and if we don't check ourselves regularly then I think this becomes the more of the norm and less the exception.

We are celebrating the birth of Christ this month. The most selfless act every performed. It was done for you and me. As Pastor Dave said today during his message, God did it for Jason! (put your name in place of mine) The unfortunate part is that our world has turned this in to a time of what about me. What I am going to get for X-mas? What are you going to give me?

If not careful, I will fall victim to that...not only in December, but throughout the year. Therefore, I have to constantly be testing myself to see if I am living a life honoring of Christ, my family and others or am I simply living for myself.

I have listed some of the questions that I try and ask myself regularly to see if I am Christ-focused or Jason-focused:

1. Do I do ministry when it is convenient for me or for the ministry?
2. Do I help someone when it fits into my calendar or when they have a need?
3. Am I giving to any need beyond my tithe, or am I spending that money for me?
4. Is my calendar filled with things I want to do or with things my family wants to do?
5. Does our budget reflect the needs of our family or the needs of Jason?
6. Am I putting overtime in for my success or for my families success? (think carefully on this one)
7. When I shop for gifts am I more likely to spend more on myself or more on others?
8. Looking at the activities in my life, are they for my glory or God's?
9. What's more important, what I did at work today or what my family did while I was gone?
10. Do I choose sleep over spending time with the Lord?

These are the big 10 that I think about in some form or fashion almost daily. There are times when I might be an 8 or 9 out of 10. There are other times when I am working real hard to find 1.

So, What is your selfishness score? Remember, failure is not bad, as long as you do something about it. Lets try and reach 10 out of 10...everytime!

Good Luck!

Welcome Ministries Series - Part 1

As I promised in my original post, I wanted to share with you a few things that have affected me personally from reading Mark Waltz's book, First Impressions, Creating Wow Experiences in your Church.

As I began thinking about where I wanted to start I began to get confused. There were so many things in the book and at the conference that got me excited, challenged me, made me think, made me question that I didn't know where to start. So I stopped, sat back and thought. In a big generalized statement what did I walk away with. Lets start there and then narrow in on things.

Here we go...

The biggest nugget for me is this....Welcome Ministries (or First Impressions) is a process.

Ooohhh...deep isn't it! Okay, I told you last time that these were not going to be new revelations, just things that impacted me.

I have learned that we can pick any one spot or area to begin our Welcome Ministry. It doesn't really matter, as it will quickly begin to change as we learn what the culture of our church is and how it is we want to effectively reach our guests. What we think may work today, may not work tomorrow. What we don't think will work, may be the best thing we could do.

It is a process...

As with any process, there is learning curves, trials, reviews and implementation periods. During these times the ministry will be growing and learning, much like a child. We will learn about the people in our church, we will learn about the people visiting our church, and we will learn about ourselves.

It is a process...

As with any process, we will not reach our end goal on day 1. We will have to move in steps. For example, a child must first roll-over before it can crawl. It must crawl before it can walk (in most cases)...and it will walk before it can run. We may find that in a given area of ministry we have identified an end goal. However, moving straight there is not always possible due to resources, people, space, etc. So we will take the first step, then the next and so on.

It is a process...

Now with all that I have said, please do not loose sight of what our primary goal is. As with all ministries, our goal is to "do anything and everything that helps our guest see Christ". Everything else in the process follows that.

Lastly, let me say this. What a relief! What a relief to know that none of us have to have an answer when we start this ministry. I believe that as long as we stay focused on the primary goal I just mentioned and truly seek God, He will begin to direct us where to place our focus, and out of that the process will begin.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Quiet time at St. Arbucks

Quiet time at St. Arbucks.

One of my mentors...Scott Hodge...regularly calls it that. I guess I am going to borrow it, well because I think its cool.

Quiet time at strbx can be a really interesting time. Last month I blogged about seeing wreaths in starbucks and it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet.

Tonight while I was in strbx I noticed those same wreaths. One was missing and the other one was damaged. It made me think. Sometimes I feel that I treat my relationship with Christ the same way.

I put it out on display for everyone to see. Yet I don't maintain it. After awhile it starts to look shabby or damaged. If I want my relationship to stand out and shine I have to check it daily, make sure it is not broken or damaged.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Bible isn't enough.

I was reading Tim Stevens blog today entitled, "The Bible Isn't Enough". I really enjoyed it. I wanted to blog on the article and add some of my own material. But Frankly, I think Tim did a great job talking about it without me saying a word. So....

Check out Tim's Blog, The Bible Isn't Enough

and enjoy a great Blog!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Follow-up on Doris

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog about our greeter Doris. If you haven't read it, go read it here first.

I had the privelage of speaking with Doris this past Sunday and told her about the situation specifically. I asked her how she did it. I am still boggled. Then what I heard next humbled me in an amazing way.

First of all, Doris was quick to correct me, it was not Bob, his name was Bill. Doris then went on to explain how when he came the first time, years ago, he had a young daughter about 10 years old and that his wife's name was Doris. She said that she has been praying for Bill and his family almost every day since then. So it was easy to remember him when he returned because she has been praying for him. In fact, she then went on to describe what the family is up to and their plans for the future, etc.

What?! You have been praying for them almost every day. Man, I get grumpy if I have to remember every prayer need for my family and friends...okay so I am exagerating to make a point. It was still a humbling conversation.

Thanks Doris for being the woman of faith that you are. I am blessed to know you!

Children at Christmas....a WOW Experience!

The other day I was trying to explain to a friend what Welcome Ministries is and what it means to create a "Wow Experience" for guests to the church. I was able to explain in detail what the ministry is made up, i.e. the different areas, as well as what the ministry would like to accomplish, i.e. the vision, mission, etc.

However, as I tried to describe the feeling one gets from a Wow experience...we couldn't match up. I could describe a wow experience, say at a restaurant or perhaps how an employee may have gone the extra mile to serve this person. Yet, I could not describe the feeling that came with that experience. I am not sure if he had never experienced that feeling, or if I did a poor job of trying to describe it (I am guessing the later). We eventually gave up that day, as I could not quite nail it down.

Then on Sunday night at our small group, my friend Steven mentioned that he would love to be there on Christmas morning to watch my youngest open his presents. My son tends to be very animated. Steven went on to describe that feeling of excitement, joy and energy that children have when they first wake up Christmas morning and see the presents awaiting them under the tree. The feeling that continues through the time of opening presents and finding out what gifts had been left for them.

As I listened to him talking, I said to myself..."That's it!". That is the feeling that a Wow Experience leaves with you. Now, we don't want to create false emotions through well planned movements and events. However, imagine the excitement if a guest, not sure what to expect, experienced a morning that surprised them with "gifts" around every corner. Gift - Someone greets them at their car. Gift- Someone helps them take their children to Sunday School. Gift- Someone gives them a "tour" of the facility. Gift - Someone cares enough to ask them their name... and remembers it after the service. Gift - The Church actually cares about them enough to make a conscious decision to prepare for their guests.

When I visit a Church and receive that kind of treatment, the best way to describe it, for me, is a kid at Christmas...a truly WOW Experience! Are you creating "Child at Christmas"- like experiences for your guests?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

So Long Self...Duh!

I was "surfing" YouTube tonight looking for cool church videos and came across this video. I have heard this song "So Long Self" by MercyMe many times. I even have it on my I-pod. Yet, tonight as I was struggling from a rough end to my week having fought with my temptations and struggles, I started listening to this song over and over. I must have listened to it 3 or 4 times. Then it hit me (or maybe God hit me...not sure). That is my problem. As I fight off these tempations and struggles, I keep making room for my old self. I make Jesus move over to the side so the old self and him can fit in. It doesn't work that way. When Jesus enters your life, he wants to take up all the space.

I know this is simple stuff, and we have all heard it before. However, I think we need to hear it over and over and over until the day we ascend to Heaven or the Lord returns for us. At least I know I do.

So, as you listen to this video, I pray that it will speak to you in a way that you need to hear, and not squeeze out some space for your old self...instead bar the door if you have to and keep the "old self" out!

God Bless!

Carry Your Candle - NLCC

Our Church played this video some time ago...maybe a year ago? It is finally posted so it can be shared. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...