Welcome to REAL Men RoCK

This blog is about the issues men face and things I have experienced.

I hope you will be encouraged, challenged, and stirred to take action.

Proverbs 27:17 (The Message)

17 You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another


ighteous   E ncouraging   A ccountable   L oving 


ely on    C hrist's   K indness

Sunday, January 31, 2010

We are Called to Minister

A few years back I had a person speak into my life and they spoke these words over me: Luke 4:  18-19 "God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, This is God's year to act!"

I know that I have been called to minister to the addicted, the afflicted and the rejected. I also know that I am to do that through a ministry that sets high standards for accountability and integrity. I will not be satisified with a position just for the sake of having the title of pastor. God has called me to minister but it has to be done in connection to an organization that is accountable to those who contribute to it. I would rather not serve than to have a position or title and minister without integrity and accountability. That calling does not have to be found in a positiion with a church or organization. It could be right where I work.

I found these words in "Without Walls" by Randy White and they describe what the church should be doing today: "Our job is not to build a church but to impact a community." and "We must be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium." Without Integrity that comes through Accountability we cannot impact our community by freeing the people who are stuck in the aquariums of alcohol, drugs and deception.

This is God's call to the church: "God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, This is God's year to act!" Each of you have the opportunity to touch the lives of hurting people who work right beside you at your place of emplyment.

I encourage you to take the time this week to listen to God as He speaks to you about someone who is hurting and in need of the help only you can provide. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are you investing?

The Story About Investment
Matthew 25: 14-18 "It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.

 19-21 "After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

 22-23 "The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

 24-25 "The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

 26-27 "The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

 28-30 " Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'

When we accept Jesus as our savior we receive gifts to be invested in the lives of others. Some have been given the ability to speak words of wisdom into the lives of others. Other gifts are words of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues or interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10).

We are givien these gifts by the Holy Spirit according to His will and they are given us to be used for the glory of God. With salvation comes a responsibility to serve within and outside of the body of Christ (The Church).

Later in Matthew 25: 31-46 We find that when Christ returns he will separate people according to how they used their gifts. Those who got out of the pew and the walls of their church building and went out to the poor, the hungry, the hurting, the ones in prison will find a greater reward than those who comfortably sat on their gifts and responsibilites.

The question for you and me is, "What are we doing with the gifts and responsibilities we have been given? Are we investing them in the lives of others or have we safely buried them deep in our heart?" 

I want to encourage you to turn off the television one evening a week, get up off the couch and take a risk of using at least one of your gifts by investing in the life of another person. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Got Problems?

What has God made you for? and How do you respond when the Holy Spirit says change directions?

Over the past 12 years God has moved me from using my spiritual gifts as a lay member to a pastoral student to an ordained pastor. He has given me a vision of what my purpose is and then opened some doors for me to pursue that purpose.

Yesterday as I sought some answers to some life issues I have been facing the last few months the Holy Spirit clearly spoke to me that I needed to make a short time change and wait for Him to make some changes in the situation. What I heard from the Holy Spirit was not what I expected or wanted to hear.

I could have approached this with an attitude that I would wait to make sure that what I heard the Holy Spirit say was confirmed by someone else. I could have ignored Him completely and continued full speed ahead along the journey because I am doing some of the things I want to do and believe I was made for. I could have neglected to act and hope that the situation would change on it's own.

What I did was to obey what the Holy Spirit informed me with the knowledge that He can restore whatever I gave up and heal relationships and make what He started even better. If I would have waited for confirmation, or ignored what I heard or neglected to act and hope things would change it would mean the Holy Spirit could not restore, heal and improve the things that are in need of His touch.

I encourage you to take time out and retreat from whatever you are facing and spend an afternoon, a day or a weekend seeking word from the Holy Spirit about whatever you are facing. You may not like what you hear but God always promises an answer to what you are seeking. It may be NO, or Yes, or even Not Now but He will give you an answer. The Yes is easy to deal with but No and Not Now are harder especially when you are living part of the dream and vision He has given you.

I woke this morning feeling assured that I did what the Holy Spirit revealed that I needed to do as a first step in healing, restoration and making better what I was asked to give up.

I encourage you to go before the Holy Spirit and spend some time sharing your heart and then listening to His response. Then take the action that needs to be done, remembering what He asks will never be in violation of God's law, and then work for healing and restoration. God will bring healing, He will restore and He will make what was even better.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How a Fun Day Brought Freedom

I recently had the opportunity to spend a Saturday going from flea market to flea market with my wife, Kat. It is something we enjoy doing together. One of the things Kat looks for is plates or pictures with carrots and me I like to purchase books. Imagine a slow reader like me that likes finding books to read. I became interested in books while living with a friend, Dick Mann, who rescued me when I was homeless.

On this Saturday I found several books to add to my library, "Stories of Jesus" by Eugene Peterson, "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn, "He Spoke to Them in Parables" by Harold Bosley and "The Great Omission" by Dallas Willard. This post is based on thoughts triggered by things I have read in "The Great Omission".

I hope this post will challenge how you view your relationship to the world, the body of Christ and to Jesus. I would probably be correct by saying that most Christian identify themselves by the brand of Christianity they belong to such as Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, or even movements like Vineyard, New Life, etc. If you are honest with yourself you will admit as I have had to that I identify with belonging to a group more than maybe I should.

Those groups in themselves are not a bad thing to belong to because they do bring us into a community of believers. The problem often comes when we approach people who do not belong to a church or who do not believe that Jesus is who He said He was or who do not believe He is the way to salvation. The approach we often take is we need to convert them to Christ, we need to get them to belong to our particular brand of church or we feel we must draw them to God. When we approach the non-churched or the lost in this way we usually get all out of whack and even stressed because they may reject our brand of Christianity.

Dallas Willard puts it this way on page 5 of "The Great Omission": "But in place of Christ's plan, historical drift has substituted "Make converts (to a particular 'faith and practice') and baptize them into church membership."
In "The Great Omission" I found the key to evangelism that is setting me on the road to freedom from that attitude. It is found in Matthew 28: 18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

For me it freeing to know that it is not my job to convert people or to draw them to God. My job is to be a witness of the Grace and Mercy of God and invest in others by helping them to become disciples of Jesus Christ. By making a person a disciple of Jesus all pressure is taken off of me and all I have to do is share what God has done through me becoming a disciple of Jesus. It is not about me or a denomination, it is all about Jesus and what He taught.

You might be asking what does being a disciple of Jesus Christ mean? I think this is an area that the church organization has dropped the ball. I know from my experience in the church no one ever came along side of me to help me become a disciple of Jesus Christ. The definition of Disciple is "A disciple is a follower and student of a mentor, teacher, or other wise figure." Can you see where the church has gotten off track by making people followers of a certain brand of Christianity instead of making people followers of Jesus?

I want to recommend the following to you to help you understand how to become a disciple of Jesus. I will do three posts in the coming days covering the three sides to the triangle.

Books I recommend:
"The Great Omission" by Dallas Willard
"Passport" by Tim Davidson
"Power Evangelism" by John Wimber
"Hope Lives" by Rick Olmstead
A Community Chaplain my other Blog

Friday, January 15, 2010

Let the Holy Spirit Speak to You

The Holy Spirit never forces His way into your life but always steps in when we invite Him to do so. Sometimes He does so thorugh unexpected ways and through people who share something in a prayer that they would not normally have knowledge of.

About a year ago I attended a worship service called "Presence and Power" and during the prayer ministry time the leader asked if anyone was feeling the movement of the Holy Spirit and gave several examples of how we could tell if He was moving on us. I identified with one of the examples and I raised my hand. There were about twn of us that raised our hands and the leader chose 3 of us to receive prayer and I was one of the three.

He asked the three of us to come up front to receive prayer. He then asked the rest of the church to look at us and ask God to show them something to share with us. Several people who knew me came up but there was a couple of people who knew of me but did not really know me who came up. One of those was a woman and after the others had prayed she moved in and prayed a prayer based on Luke 4: 18.  God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

I knew that this woman was moved by the Holy Spirit to come and pray over me because she did not know what my heart's call was and she barely knew who I was. The ones who knew me and prayed over me prayed on those things they knew I needed prayer for. I drank in the encouragement they gave which I believe came from the Holy Spirit.  When the woman who did not know me prayed I knew the Holy Spirit had moved her to pray it because she was confirming what I felt I was being called to do. As she finished I not only had received encouragement that I needed but I received confirmation for what I believed I was made to do.

I believe that through this post God is telling you that He wants you to step out and allow someone to speak into your life so that He can through the Holy Spirit share with you what He has made you to do. Once it is revealed to you your job is to find a way to make it happen.

Here are several suggestions for you to consider:
1. Read or rent the movie "The Ultimate Gift" by Jim Stovall.
2. Read "The Dream Giver" by Bruce Wilkinson.
3. Find someone to mentor you.
4. Acknowledge that the dream you have belongs to God but He is going to do it through you.
5. Consider this: "If you do not respond to what God is calling you to do it will never be done."

This blog and my REAL Men RoCK blog are a direct result of that prayer. My goals for this ministry is also a direct result of the prayer the woman prayed that evening. I know that if I submit to God's will that I will achieve the dream and that He will be glorified by it. I also know the same is true for you. I encourage you to open yourself up to allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you through someone you do not know. But I warn you that you may have to give something up to achieve what God wants in your life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Are We Becoming?

It just hit me this evening as I read some posts on FaceBook and then posted my own comments. We Christians are becoming so much like the world. I read at least 6 posts by Christians that focused entirely on what they were doing in their own life not the lives of others. It just seems like we are becoming so much like the rest of the world, self focused, self promoting and vain. I am talking about me as well as many other Christians.

It appears to me that we are rapidly becoming the people Paul spoke about in 2 Timothy 3: 1-5  Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people.

The question for you and me is this: "Do we even reflect one of those items in that list?" When I look at it I have to admit I am guilty.

Our church is doing a 21 day fast beginning in a few days. Maybe instead of fasting from food some of should fast from FaceBook, MySpace, Twiter, the internet all together, taking the best parking place or seat, or eating rich foods. Maybe we pastors and leaders should serve instead of being served. Maybe some of us parents should spend more time playing with our children instead of playing with our toys or working. Maybe some of us should not fast at all because we have promoted the fact that we are fasting to the whole world.

What if we spent as much time focused on giving the addicted a hand up, giving an encouraging word to the rejected or maybe even giving up ourselves for others. Doing the things Jesus gave the church to do.

Right now I feel the Holy Spirit convicting me and I hope that you feel the same.

Do You Know Who You Are?

Posted at A Community Chaplain blog

Men love to read stories about those who excell in their particular sport. I want to share a story about one of the great boxers, Joe Louis. This is another story from "Stories for a Man's Heart".

Joe Louis was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 until he retired in 1949. During his time of service in the army, Louis was driving with a fellow GI when he was involved in a minor collision with a large truck. The truck driver got out, yelling and swearing at Louis, who just sat in the driver's seat, smiling. "Why didn't you get out and knock him out?" asked his buddy after the truck driver had moved on. "Why should I?" replied Joe. "When somebody insulted Caruso, did he sing an aria for him?"

This is a great illustration about knowing your identity. The truck driver clearly did not know the real identity of the person he was cursing, for if he had, he would have treated him in a dramtically different way! On the other hand, Joe Louis knew who he was--the best boxer in the world--and therefore he had nothing to prove.

For those of us who are leaders we should ponder how this story is relevant to us. Personally for me if I know who I am and am secure in that identity I will be more likely to trust others to be who they are. I will not need to outshine them, upstage them, overshadow them, or have the last word. Knowing who I am gives me the freedom to allow them to be free.

In Mark 6: 7-13 we read about the 12 disciples being sent out by Jesus. It says He gave them authority over unclean spirits; and instructed them. Then they went out to preach, to cast out demons and to heal. Notice it does not say Jesus went with them. He trusted that once they were equipped and empowered they would perform so He released them to service.

Too often leaders are not secure in who they are and so they equip and empower but never release people to service. They instead equip people, verbally say they have empowered them and then stnad right behind them watching their every move to make sure they do it their way.

God did not create robots and neither should we leaders. Jesus equipped and empowered servant leaders who later equipped and empowered servant leaders. Shouldn't we be doing the same thing?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Have You Been Jesus to Someone Today?

I read a story in "Stories for a Man's Heart" that I would like to share. It goes something like this: Five salesmen were at a conference and they had all told their wives they would be home in time for dinner after the conference was over. The conference ran a little late but each man hurried off to the airport to catch the train home.

They were in such a hurry that as they passed by a stand with apples set up by a boy one of them knocked the stand over.  They ran through the terminal and were just boarding their train when one of the men stopped and asked one of the guys to phone his wife and let her know that he would be late. He turned and went back through the terminal and out to where the boy's stand was.

Apples were scattered all over the area and the boy who was blind was on his knees trying to find them. The man bent down and helped him round the apples up. As he was placing them on the stand the man noticed that several were damaged so he opened his wallet and gave the boy a twenty dollar bill. As he turned to leave he heard the boy ask, "Sir, are you Jesus?"

I encourage you to take the time today to be Jesus in the life of someone by doing something out of the ordinary so that God can perform the extra-ordinary.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Church Growth - An Example

In 1999 I began to attend a church in Overland Park called the Vineyard and I want to share with you how it grew from 150 members to 850 members in about 10 years.

The Vineyard did not have an organized evangelistic effort, nor did it do slick mailings, and it used no gimmics to draw people to services. So what caused it to grow like it did? I believe three key things created that growth.

1. The Vineyard tapped into the power of the Holy Spirit in a Naturally Supernatural way. Each week the pastor giving the sermon would preach a Biblically sound sermon and then invite people to respond. As people responded he would invite the Holy Spirit to interact with them by having the church personally pray for and with them.

2. The lead pastor put together a competent team of men and women to oversee various departments and ministries of the church. He had them set measurable goals for their areas, empowered them to pursue them and then released them to do the work. He trusted completely in their abilities and demonstrated that by getting out of their way. When they led a meeting or gave a sermon or stood on stage he took a place with the rest of the church and listened. In a mentoring class with some future leaders he told us he purposely removed himself from the picture because if he didn't the church would look to him as the leader instead of the ones he had entrusted leadership over that area.

3. The most important factors were Jesus was presented as the leader of the church and the Holy Spirit was always invited to come into every meeting.

C. Gene Wilkes in his book, "Jesus on Leadership" puts it this way. Filling organizational charts with warm bodies regardless of heart attitude or spiritual giftedness will certainly kill a church. Freeing God's people to serve as God has gifted them to serve makes a church grow. Knowing how God has gifted you for service in the body will give you the confidence to take risks and pioneer new ministries.

I experienced this first hand at the Vineyard. I enlisted a group of men to join a core group to develop a men's minsitry at the Vineyard. We met each week for several weeks, praying and putting together a plan. We made an appointment with the lead pastor and presented our ideas. After we had done our presentation he asked us to add a couple of things and then told us to go and do the ministry. He encouraged us to let it be a ministry under Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.  He then finished by saying the ministry would be a men driven ministry and that he would not be involved except to promote it. Go and do it!

Out of the group of men who made up that core group two of us have gone on to become ordained pastors, one is involved in a men's ministry and he travels across the United States and to Kenya to minister to men and another has become a leader in Alpha. Out of the men who attended men's events the men's ministry promoted one is now a pastor of a church plant in Independence, MO and another is the leader of a growing men's ministry at the Vineyard.

The Vineyard grew because Jesus was presented as the answer to life problems, people were empowered and released to ministry and the leadership knew their limitations and allowed the church to lead in areas it lacked gifts in.

Recommended reading:
"Jesus on Leadership" C. Gene Wiles
"Natural Church Development" Christian A. Schwarz

Your organization or church can experience the same type of growth by sharing Jesus with those who are hurting, by letting the Holy Spirit work through others and by releasing control of ministry to those who have been given spiritual gifts of service. It is a risk well worth taking and it is a ton of fun watching people doing the ministry they were made for.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Making Disciples

posted at A Community Chaplain

I have began 2010 reading a book called, "The Passionate Church" by Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad. In this post I want to share with you a little from this book that I believe God wants you to consider.

For those of you who work for a church organization you might find some of what I share disagreeable. I have been known to be somewhat of a challenge because I think outside of the box and because I challenge leaders to look outside of the box they have placed themselves in. I have to admit that I am influenced by a church model that is outside of the traditional church model but in my opinion it is what unchurched people are looking for.

On page 20 the authors state this: "As pastors, we understand the turmoil church leaders are dealing with today. For the past decade it has become apparent that the modern church models and methods are no longer effective. High control/low accountability church leadership systems are not working. The preoccupation with programs, property, and products is missing the mark. We know that you want to see real life-change in your people and to see your church grow. We know you want your church to make a difference in your community and in the world. Jesus showed us the way in his teaching his disciples 2,000 years ago. It is the only way."

If we take an honest look efforts at evangelism some are based on mailings, service projects and sometimes hype. Those things in themselves are not necessarily wrong but they do not produce disciples.

On page 21 Mike & Walt state this: "Jesus left only one plan for church growth: multiplication through disciples making disciples. "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1: 8

It has been my experience that leaders sometimes do all of the things to get people to attend services but fail to develop the discipleship process that will keep them coming back. That process involves the whole body of Christ and requires a development of close relationships with those who come as a result of the evangelistic activity.  We can have great worship and even a meaningful relatable sermon but unless we have community people who we would look at as unchurched will not keep coming.

As leaders in the church we need to do three things: 1. Study the culture we live in, 2. Read the Bible and 3. Build the church. Many in our culture today come from broken homes and to many family was not a safe institution. Many in our culture today even if they attended church as youth do not know the scriptures. Many in our culture believe that the church is an organization with a name and a building. If we study our culture we will know that we might find that talking church talk on Sunday mornings is something unchurched people in our community do not get nor relate to and might even be turned off by. If we study our culture we might find that many cannot relate to refrences about the church being a family and it might even cause fear in them. If we study our culture we might find that even people who grew up in the church were not taught scripture and do not understand how to study the Bible. Finally, if we study our culture we might find that we need to build disciples is how to build the church.

Creating disciples requires two things: 1. Building relationships 2. Teaching the Bible. Both of these are best done through the concept of home groups also known as small groups or life groups. What we pastors do on Sunday mornings are important but what takes place in the home group is far more important. The church through home groups develop relationships and a more intimate study of scriptures is experienced, which results in disciples of Jesus Christ being formed.

Suggested reading: 
"The Every Church Guide to Growth" by Elmer Towns, C. Peter Wagner & Thom S. Rainer
"The Barbarian Way" by Erwin Raphael McManus
"Power Evangelism" by John Wimber"Reap the Harvest" by Joel Comiskey