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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Total Remodel

My place of employment is going through a total remodel. The place is only six years old and many ask, "Why are they remodeling it?" On the surface the place looks good but when you take a closer look you will find tiles that are cracked, walls with blemishes and shelves that are dented.

Isn't this building I work in much like you and me? On the outside we might look pretty good. We are like the guy in the Old Spice commerical where he tells you to look at him then your man then back to him. He looks great compared to most of us men. BUT... he is actually just like us except packaged in a hunk body. When you look closer at his or our life you will find cracks in our character, blemishes in our personality and dents in our hearts. We are like our building and in need of a complete remodel.

The first thing that is happening at our building is demolition. People are taking down old shelves and some of the shelves are going to a wearhouse for resale and some are being placed in a dumpster to be thrown away. To remodel our lives we need to do what Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 and get rid of the rotten life we had before we accepted Jesus as our savior. 

Ephesians 4: 20-24 But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
Then we need to look at our daily life and the attitudes that feed our negative areas and let the Holy Spirit fix those things. 

Romans 12: 1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Then we need to dress in a different way and be more transparent in who we are. We need to work on becoming a new person. 

Colossians 3: 9-11 Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
When our building has been completely remodeled it will look up-to-date and have some of the latest technology.  Once we have matured (been completely remodeled) in Christ we will be living in an upside down world because life is still going to happen to us and everything will not be perfect. We will face troubles and difficulties but with the help of Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit we can still be joyful about what lies ahead for us.

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.

Father, Change us for Your glory. In Jesus name amen 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Music for the Soul

As I was growing up I had several experiences that caused me to never develop any musical skills. I cannot carry a tune nor can I play even a simple instrument but I appreciate good music. I find that music sooths my soul and it can stir me emotions that have long been capped. When I attend worship services I sometimes find tears flowing down my cheeks as the Holy Spirit moves me through the songs we are singing.

I love going to YouTube and listening to the different attempts by people to express themselves through music or even pretending to be singing a song. Here are a some from Playing for Change. Note: The people who are featured here are very talented and I am often stirred by their ability to sing and the songs they sing.

Stand by Me

There is not a person who has lived or is alive today that would not love to have people stand by them.

One Love

I know this song is not about Jesus or God but what this song stirs in me is that there is One Love that can bring us together and it is found in our Creator.

A Change Is Gonna Come

This song stirs in me the hope of change in the world when the Kingdom of God comes in it's fulness.

A Better Man

God is telling me through this song that I can become a better man and that I will be a person of significance. 

Sometimes we get caught up in placing people in little boxes but I believe God wants us to break down those walls and He gave us music that helps us to do that. Look at the example of Saul and David in 1 Samuel 18 where when Saul was troubled by an evil spirit David's playing the harp soothed his soul. God created music and He intended it to stir us both to tears and to joy.

I encourage you to find those songs that stir you and listen to them intently for the message that God wants to give you through them. God stirs me by the blues, by country, by Bluegrass and by contemporary Christian music. When I hear a song that stirs my emotions I know that most often God is either touching a wound with healing or stirring a passion in me that needs to be brought alive.

I hope you enjoyed the songs.

Passion + Gifts + God Call = Ministry

From time to time I like to highlight ministries that I believe are examples of how God moves in the lives of people who are using their passion & gifts to meet the calling God has given them when the opportunity arises. With this post I want to share a new church being planted in Alamosa, CO. The location is in the beautiful San Luis Valley just a few miles from the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is the feet of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

I will let the lead pastor tell you about the Dream of the Vineyard of the Rio Grande.

We're Vineyard of the Rio Grande - a missional community.

What does that mean?

It means that we're a community of people who live, work, and play in the San Luis Valley - and we're excited and grateful to be here! We celebrate that excitement, and express that gratitude, by caring for the people of the San Luis Valley.

But, even more than that, we see that our Creator is a missional God. He's at work in the world redeeming, restoring, and repairing. He invites us to participate with Him in that and we've said, "Yes!" That is our mission.

In order to fulfill that mission, we've dreamed a BIG dream... and we're now in the process of seeing that dream come true.

In a highly visible location in Alamosa, Colorado, we are constructing an indoor adventure-land for children, a café called "Common Ground," and an auditorium for meetings, small venue concerts, and fund-raisers for other local non-profits. We will use the entire space for gatherings that benefit and care for the people of the San Luis Valley. The whole project is an integrated environment where we can care for the whole person, the whole family, and the whole community.

This dream is now a reality. We're building it. On this page you will see the current logos for each of the three components of this integrated space. (Soon, each of these will be a link to more information about each space.) On our facebook group you can view photos of the actual construction.

We invite you to be a part of this adventure! This project is truly a BIG dream - a dream that is way beyond the resources of our local missional community. If this speaks to your heart, join us. There are several ways you can do that:

1) You can follow our progress by becoming a member of our facebook group. We post photos and videos on a regular basis. This is where you can watch the before-and-after progress of the spaces we are remodeling.

2) You can send us ideas and resource information at: vineyardriogrande@gmail.com. The Jungle Adventure for children is going to be incredible! We'll need lots of ideas and help.

3) And, just below is a link that will connect you to a simple way to donate and become a part of making this dream a reality.

We have the people, the passion, the vision, and the volunteers. All of these resources are being provided locally. But, financially, this vision is much bigger than Alamosa itself. That’s why we’re seeking partners on a national level. We invite you to join us by making a donation. Thank you.

* Donations are tax deductible. All donations to this project are used solely for this project. Donations go directly to an account specifically for the construction of this project and are not co-mingled with our general fund. Donations are monitored by an outside accounting firm.
I share this church plant dream with you because it is a story of how a man responded to a call on his life and then built relationships with people who were seeking a closer walk with their Lord. If God is calling you to do something bigger than what you can achieve I encourage you to study this church plant and discover the plan that was used to move the dream along the road to reality.
I personally believe Scott is seeking more than success; he is seeking a life of significance.
Father, may the Vineyard of the Rio Grande be a light for Your Glory. May the wounded, the hurting, the addicted and the rejected find a home of healing at the Vineyard. In Jesus name amen

Friday, February 19, 2010

Turfidist, a Religious Disease

I want to warn you that if you live in our small community this post could either tick you off or make you jump and yell "Yes!". I know that writing a post like this will make me unpopular but the truth is never popular where sin is present. It makes me sad to write a post like this but no one else is willing to talk about it outside of the walls of their own church. Moaning and groaning and complaining will not change things but action will. 

In our small town there seems to be an attitude that I call "Turfidist". I have heard comments from pastors such as, "If you do not attend church in our community you should not minister here" and "If you are not part of our congregation I do not want my men meeting with you". There is also an attitude of jealousy among the church leaders which showed itself on the front page of the local newspapers where some complainted at a city meeting that some churches were getting treated better in regard to the city's signage policy.

I want to make two points about these attitudes.

1. I believe it would be a good thing if the pastors of our town would apply the Bible to whether someone who goes to church in another town but is doing ministry in our town.
Mark 9:38-40 (The Message)
38 John spoke up, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group." 39-41 Jesus wasn't pleased. "Don't stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice."

Jesus, the son of our Creator, told His disciples not to interfer with the work of those who were casting out demons in His name but were not part of their group. It would seem a good thing for someone to be doing the work that God has called them to do especially if they are ministering to people others are not. I believe we should rejoice in the work of someone who is able to reach those we cannot.

It seems that Jesus is telling us to rejoice when someone not in our group is experiencing success in sharing the gospel with those who do not attend church. My view of ministry is it takes place more outside of the church than inside. Jesus went to the countryside to minister more than He did in the synagogue and maybe we should be too. 

2. As far as the signage conflcit is concerned it would be good for leaders to look at the stats on what causes people to visit and then become a member of a congregation. In the studies I have seen here is the percentage breakdown on why people began to attend a church.

   1%     Special Need
   2.5%  Walked in
   5%     Pastor
   2%     Visitation
   5%     Sunday School
   1.5%  Evangelistic crusade
   3%     Church program
 81%     Friend or relative

In Matthew 10: 1-23 tells us about how Jesus sent out the 12 disciples to minister. The verses talk about healing and casting out demons which both involve some form of personal contact. From the stats above and from scripture we find that people respond to a relationship. As pastors we should be more focused on building relationships and rejoicing in the victories other churches are experiencing.

I have had the opportunity to sit in on monthly luncheons in our community and at one of these a miniter asked asked if the other pastors had the same difficulty he was having in growing their congregations. None at the meeting were experiencing growth and could not come up with ideas on how to touch those who were not attending church.

Our community and surrounding county has about 52% of people not attending or associated with a church. It would seem to me that when we shop, go out to eat or attend an event at one of our local schools 52% of those we come in contact with probably do not attend church. According to the above stats only 5% of those people will be drawn by the pastor but 81% will be drawn by a personal relationship with someone else.

You might be asking yourself "How do I apply this post to my life?"

1. Use scripture in battling any "Turfidist" issues in your life. If someone is sharing the gospel in areas of your community that you are not touching then rejoice that Jesus is being shared.
2. Remember that it is relationships that draw people to Jesus. It is how Jesus operated. God created us to need relationships and that is how the church in the 1st century grew. If it worked then it will work today. Afterall it is the standard Jesus set for us.

If you live in our town or in our county I encourage you to take the following survey and share with me what your idea church would look like. My Ideal Church

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Intro to a New Bogger

I want to share a New Blogger with you. I met this guy a few years back when and we have had lots of experiences together. We have had deep feelings I mean thinkings about some of the same issues. We have experienced going through Vineyard Leadership Institute together and doing some ministry projects together.

His blog is called Garbage In Garbage Out.

I hope you will pay his blog a visit and leave him a comment.

I believe that God brings people into our lives at just the right moment and for the right reasons. We either take advantage of the relationship our we allow it to slip away. I think no I know that my friendship with this young maturing man has been for the benfit of both of us. In the end as we pursue the dream that God has placed within our hearts our friendship will benefit many.

Dream BIG and Believe that God Will Deliver

For some reason God has led me to several books lately that have to do with ministry. Each of these books has stirred the passions in me that God has placed there. I recently posted the following on FaceBook, which sums up what I believe God is stirring in me.

  I believe that God wants a church in our town that is made up of people who are followers of Jesus that have   thrown off the chains of conforming to this world and the shackles of defeat. A people who are pursuing the     BIG Passions that God has placed in their hearts.

A while back I was talking with a couple of pastors and one told me there are a lot of good ideas flowing out of me but now is not the time to pursue them. My first thoughts was “If not now when?” The above statement is a passion I have and I believe I will have an involvement in helping to create that church. In a church where people have had the chains removed they are allowed to pursue the BIG Dreams that God has placed in their heart. They are not told to stay within the lines or within a box that others have placed them in. They are free to use the Spiritual Gifts that the Holy Spirit has given them for service to others. They are not conformed to the leader but equipped, empowered and released by him or her to ministry.

 Most recently the book the Holy Spirit led me to is “Living BIG” by Pam Grout. The back covers says this, “Do you ever feel that the daily grind is wearing you down and wonder how you can live a more meaningful life? Living Big is a book about discovering your own potential, loving with ever ounce of your soul, and reclaiming your wildest dreams. It’s about visionaries, dreamers, crusaders, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Pam Grout shows you how to shift your attitude, seize the day, and grow into the best person you were meant to be. Featuring profiles of everyday people who are living fully and completely as well as life changing activities. Living Big will get you thinking BIG, dreaming BIG, and asking the right BIG questions.

I personally believe God has placed a BIG dream in each of us and it is a dream that only we can fulfill. I believe that if we do not pursue our BIG dream we will not experience life as God meant for us to experience it.

Luke 12: 23 “For life is more than food, and the body than clothing.”

John 10: 10 “The Thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”

What did Jesus mean by those two statements? I cannot answer either of these for you because what God considers more than food and clothing for you is different than it is for me and we each have to discover for ourselves what abundant living is for us personally.

I can use what Jesus said in John 4: 34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” as the basis to finding those answers. We each need to desire the food that comes from doing the will of the Father and out of that we will discover the work He desires us to do and that will lead to abundant living.

I encourage you to dust off that dream and pursue it with all of the passion that the Holy Spirit gives to you because someone is depending upon you to do it. If not now when?

Suggested reading:
“Living Big” by Pam Grout
“7 Practices of Effective Ministry” by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner and Lane Jones
“The Great Omission” by Dallas Willard
“The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkinson

Sunday, February 14, 2010

7 Practices of Effective Ministry

God has a way of showing me how He expects me to lead others. He either brings me in contact with men who are good and not so good examples of leadership and books that with examples of good leadership in them.

One of my most recent purchases is a book by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner and Lane Jones called "7 Practices of Effective Ministry". I want to share this book with you with hopes that any of you who are struggling in your ministry will sit back and consider these 7 Practices.

From the back cover of the book:  
Rethink Your Ministry Game Plan 
Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing. If you are satisfied with those results, you don't need this book. If not, it's time for a change. Here are seven strategic principles that will bring focus and clarity to everything you do when you put them into play.

Let's take a look at the 7 Practices including a brief explanation.
1. Clarify the Win
    Unless you can describe what the win is for each area of your ministry you will spend a lot of time focused 
    pursuing the worng goals.  If your idea of a church that is winning equals more people and more money then 
    you might want to rethink your game plan. Ask yourself and yor team the question: "What does a win look 
    like for every department of your organization?"
2. Think Steps not Programs
    What steps do you need to take to reach your win? Ministries that focus on prgrams rarely reach the win 
    because they end up spending time on developing programs and not the steps that lead to a win.
3. Narrow the Focus
    Do fewer things in order to make a greater impact and make those things you do a step in your win.
4. Teach Less for More
    Say only what you need to say to the people who need to hear it.
5. Listen to Outsiders
    Focus on who you're trying to reach, hot who you're trying to keep. Often pastors or administrators do not 
    look outside of themselves for ideas on how to improve their ministry. When someone does offer ideas they 
    ignore them especially when they are somewhat different than what they have.
6. Replace Yourself
    Learn to hand off what you do. Some pastors or administrators believe they equip, empower and release 
    people but they tend to keep control by developing everything themsleves. Instead of developing leaders 
    they develop enactors. Enactors are people who enact the programs the leader has come up with.
7. Work on It
    Take time to evaluate your work--and celebrate your wins. Many pastors and administrators do not take 
    the time to gather information from people within their organization and to take time to enjoy the wins they 

Look back over the past five years of your ministry. Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing. If you are satisfied with those results, you don't need "7 Practices for Effective Ministry. If not, it's time for a change.

I hope this post encourages you to move out of the box you have built around your church, your ministry and those who serve with you. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Words of Wisdom or Knowledge

Have you ever met someone who said something like this to you: "I do not know if this is for you but here is what the Lord is telling me to share with you."? If you have that person has just exercised a Spiritual Gift called "Word of Wisdom" or "Word of Knowledge". These are gifts which the Holy Spirit uses to either reveal in a supernatural way something to us about an event that is going to happen or speak about an event that happened to us that no one else knows about.

Since I believe that God still uses the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 today my purpose of this post is not to determine that point. What I want to do is encourage you to consider several things if someone does share a "Word of Wisdom or Knowledge" with you.

I will use examples I have either experienced or heard about.

One night I was at a worship event called “Presence and Power” and after the teaching about how the Holy Spirit moves in our lives the speaker asked if any of us was feeling the power of the Holy Spirit? There were probably 125 people in the room and I along with about ten other people raised our hand. The speaker looked around the room and chose three of us to come up for prayer and I was one of the three.

He then asked people to look at us and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal something about us that we either needed to hear to confirm what was being stirred in us. People came forward and prayed for each of us. One lady who was new to our congregation and who did not know me began to pray and she used Luke 4: 18–19 as she prayed about what she felt the Holy Spirit wanted me to hear.

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!"

She prayed that I would respond to the call to go to the addicted, the rejected and the down and out.

This woman did not know me or my background, she did not know I had gone through 2 years of extensive pastoral training, she did not know that during that training I had felt the call to do ministry to the poor, the addicted, the rejected. The Holy Spirit used her to confirm what He had placed on my heart but that I was struggling with for the year after I graduated and was ordained.

Another example is I know of a pastor who was prayed over at a convention and was told that someone would come into his life to help him in his ministry. All of the details of the circumstances are not important.

I believe that in both of these situations this is what needs to considered:
1. Was the word truly for us?
2. If so then what should our response be?

I believe that sometimes people get a word of wisdom or knowledge and believe it is for a certain person and it may have been for some one else that they know or see in the room. That is why we need to see if the word lines up with what God has revealed to us already or that we have actually experienced. For example if the word was about me being a star basketball player I would have to seriously question if it was for me since I am 60 years old and 5’6” tall. But if it lines up with what I have felt God calling me to do then I should seriously consider responding to it by seeking the opportunities to do what I am be called to do.

If the Holy Spirit is telling me that I need to consider input from another person and I actually come into contact with that other person I need to carefully listen to counsel of that person. What they say may not agree with my goals and plans but it might be what God actually wants me to pursue. If the Holy Spirit spoke through another person about pursuing things in a slightly different manner I need to deeply consider what the person shared before I discard it. I may be passing over a blessing from God because the ideas were not exactly like mine. The goal may have been the same but the method was slightly different. If I believed the person was sent to me supernaturally then there was a purpose for the ideas being different than what I had.

So how do you apply this to your own life? First, if you are open to receiving a word from God that is supernatural in nature place yourself in situations where people can speak to you in that way. There are conferences and worship services that are available for this type of experience. Second, be open to new ideas when they are shared. Third, be willing to use those new ideas if they move you toward your goal or dream.

Suggested reading: “Naturally Supernatural” by Gary Best
  “Power Healing” by John Wimber
  “Without Walls” by Randy White
  “ 7 Practices of Effective Ministry” by Andy Stanley
These books can be purchased by clicking on the title or by going to your Christian book store.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Small but it changed the World

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to talk with pastors about their goals and dreams for their congregation. Each has had a dream of growing a spiritually stronger body and one that reached out to the broken hearted, the rejected and the lost. The ones that were actually doing growing spiritually healthy churches and had one thing in common. They relied on the Holy Spirit to do grow the body. When you look at the make up of their congregation it was full of flawed people who were not what most would say were the best at evangelism or the most talented people. What their congregations had in common was they relied on the power of the Holy Spirit to move through them.  From my talks with these servant leaders I found that the number one thing they did was to rely on the Holy Spirit to work through those they were leading. They did not look at the abilities or the knowledge of the people but instead stirred them to open themselves to being used by the Holy Spirit.

When we look at the physical we tend to limit what the Holy Spirit can do.  If leaders do not believe in the people they are leading they will see only the flaws or weaknesses in their lives and not the possibilities that the Holy Spirit can do through them.

In his book, "On the Anvil" Max Lucado describes a small church of 120 men that changed the world. Most were illiterate and poor, blue-collar workers, inexperienced and uncultured. They had no plan, no organization, noagreement on what the mission was. Their movement was demanding too much too fast. It lacked tact and was against tradition. On human terms it was doomed to fail.

Within 30 years of the beginning of this small band of men the message of Jesus Christ reached into every port, city, and courtyeard of the world. It was infectious. It was a growing organism. It not only succeeded but still exists today touching the hearts of the broken, the rejected, the addicted and the poor. It succeeded not because of great human leadership or talented men. It succeeded because it's leader believed in those He was leading. It succeeded because His Holy Spirit was active in the lives of those He released for service.

If you are a leader or desire to be a leader always remember it is not the skills of the people you lead that is important. What is most important is you allow the Holy Spirit that dwells in them to rise up. If you want a growing church then rely on the Holy Spirit to move them to serve the poor, the hurting, the broken, the rejected and the addicted. By doing so you will impact your community and beyond.

1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God." 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Are You Thankful for the Small Things?

If you have been a Christian for any length of time you have heard a sermon based on Matthew 25: 14-30 which begins this way: 14 "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.
Most often the sermon is either about using your spiritual gifts, or about giving or getting involved in the church and I would also use this scripture in that way but for this post I am going to take it in a different direction. Even though I will begin in a different direction we will end up in the same place as many sermons or talks about this scripture.

As I was going through pastoral training and then after being ordained I have talked with pastors who were either planting a new church or trying to grow one that already existed. Being ordained myself I try to take scripture and apply it to my life as a pastor. I believe that when pastors take on a new assignment they are like the slaves who have been called before the master and entrusted with His possessions while He is away.

Some of us have been given the responsibility of overseeing a large church or ministry while others of us have been given a smaller church or ministry. In applying this scripture to those responsibilities I believe God will ask us what did we do with the possessions that He placed in our hands. Did we help the church or ministry grow first spiritually and then in size? But most importantly He will ask us how did we view our assignment to the church or ministry that we were responsible for? Were we thankful for that little bitty church or did we look at it with an attitude being ashamed that it was known as that little church? 

For someone reading this post God is challenging you right now to own up to looking down on your ministry and calling it a small thing. In this passage God is calling us to grow the possessions He has given to us but He first is asking us to be thankful for what we have been given so that He can grow it. I believe unless we are thankful God has given us something to be responsibile for and to look at it as a prize possession given to us to shepherd it will not increase spiritually or in size. If you have been guilty of looking down on your ministry or church then I encourage you to take time to ask God to forgive you and to show you the beauty of your ministry. Once you have done that I believe the small thing He has given you responsibility over will begin to grow in a Naturally Supernatural way. He will grow it directly in proportion to your thankfulness for it.

Father, Bless the pastors and ministers who are reading this today. If they have been unthankful for the ministry You have given them stir them to repentance. Renew their thankfulness for the possessions You have placed in their hands. *From the ashes of their dreams raise up something beautiful.   In the authority and power of Jesus name amen 

* "Without Walls" by Randy White
What is written at this blog is always to me first and then to others. I write from my own experiences and if you identify with it then cool. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Books You Read and the People You Meet

I lived for forty years not liking to read or meeting new people. For forty years I wasted opportunities to explore the world and share in the experiences of others. Consider for a moment all of the words of wisdom and stories of excitement I missed that are found in the pages of books and in sharing life with people.

Somewhere in my forties I heard someone speak and I believe it was Charlie "Tremendous" Jones say, "In ten years you will the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read."  I began to read good positive books, ones on real life stories, one about history and even some fiction. I began to grow from the new things I read about. Some of the books on positive thinking talked about breaking out of the chains of loneness and meet new people. As I began to let the walls down and allow people to get to know me I found that some of them actually liked who I was despite the fact that I was a mess.

Now in just a few days I will celebrate my 60th birthday and I can honestly say I have lived more in the past ten years because I have read books and allowed people to know me and I have gotten to know them than I did the prior 50 years. I know that because of the books I have read and the people I have met I am a more balanced person.

So I want to encourage you to go to both new and used book stores and browse the shelves and find one book that speaks to you. Within the pages of a book you can find examples of people who have experienced what you are or who have the same type of dream you have and you can be encouraged. I also encourage you to find people who will accept you where you are and are willing to help you move forward. 

Remember ten years from now you will be the same person you are except for the books you read and the people you meet.  

Passion and Heart

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I write about what is on my heart at the moment and I write with passion. Being transparent can cause people to question why I am sharing what I am sharing. They can get irritated or uneasy because they might even know or think they know why I am sharing what I am. I purposely do not share names of people or even groups or organizations that I am talking about because that is not important. What is important to me is to share what I am experiencing. 

If you look at the number of readers of this blog there have been several thousand and some are local readers but most are in other states or even countries. I know that somewhere within that group of readers there is at least one person who is experiencing what I am and is looking for someone who understands. Every now and then I get a letter like the one I shared yesterday and I know that the Holy Spirit spoke through me.

Because I write with passion and I write from my heart I probably offend people. I apologize if I have ever written anything in such a way that has given you clues to what has tripped my trigger. My intention is to share what is on my heart not who or what has triggered it.

For 45 years I lived holding my passion and feelings inside. I did not share them because some people told me I should not share them because the feelings I had might upset people. For years I lived in a protective bubble and I will not go back to hiding my feelings. So every now and then I will have to write a short letter of apology. I do not apologize for sharing what I am feeling but I apologize that I did not protect the ones who triggered those feelings.

God created us to have emotions and passion. I think He can deal with them or else He would not be asking us to pray. 

Father, if I have had a wrong attitude when I write in this blog I ask You to reveal that to me and then help me correct it. Thank you for touching one heart with this post. My Your Holy Spirit bring people freedom and may what I write bring You glory. In the power, the authority and the name of Jesus Christ amen

Monday, February 1, 2010

This Is Why I write This Blog

Mr. Clark,

I found your blog through another blog one man revival. I really like some of your viewpoints on things. I like the "Have you been Jesus lately?" Jesus does amazing works through us. I think it is incredibly realistic than you can be Jesus to someone.

Perhaps what I found most interesting was your interpretation of Matthew 25:14-36.

A little about myself...
I was raised in a Lutheran church in PA where we hardly ever missed a Sunday. Sometime around my senior year of high school our church approved to spend $300,000 on church renovation instead of sharing a youth pastor with another Lutheran church and paying half his salary of around $18,000. I wondered why would God do this? Why would good people of the church do this? It turned me off to not only my church, but to organized religion in general. I still believed in God, but I didn't believe in anything else.

Unfortunately the renovation project took place throughout my freshman year in college... at #1 party school Penn State no less. It was a poor time in a man's life for him to lose his direction, but I did. The next four years was filled with a lot of drinking and time wasting. I graduated 3rd in my major, but you could hardly ever find me at class. (I graduated high school first in my class and am sure I could have gotten at least a 3.9 if I had applied myself instead of my 3.63) If there was a bad habit, I picked it up... idleness, drunkeness, tobacco use. A lot of my friends and teachers saw I had a natural gift of smarts and figured I should achieve great things. Most of my finance buddies defined 'great things' as an accumulation of stuff and for the first time in my life I measured self worth by net worth. (I was raised on a dairy farm where people/family were more important than family.) I was on a course to kill myself either physically by my lifestyle or spiritually the way I was distancing myself from God. (Emotionally I was already dead to the pains of the physical world. My compassion for others was gone.) During this time I was approached by a lot of people that wanted to "push" me towards their religion or beliefs. This only turned me off even more. I wanted a relationship with God, not a theological principle or building. Things were bad and then God intervened...

I had a lot of great jobs lined up; despite my lack of effort and poor attitude employers could see that I had potential and were willing to pay a lot of money for it. Then my uncle's hired help quit and I chose to return to the farm where I would be making $18,000 a year, roughly about 1/3 of my best offer. Despite the fact that I thought I was dead to feeling, God showed me that a piece of me was still willing to put family first. I came home a started to make small changes: my low salary prevented matieral things so I found the joy in God's day, a new calf, sunshine. Being on a farm makes you work hard and when you are dealing with animals you have to be responsible. The idleness stopped. I still couldn't find the nerve to go back to church. I didn't think I was worthy to go. It was weird. I felt like I could never go because of where I had been in college. Reluctantly I went back and it is good. I haven't cared about denomination, or offering, or church council.... I focused on being there when God needed me.

Anyways, I realize God has forgiven me for my sins and to be honest that isn't what bothers me. What bothers me is how I wasted his gifts I was entrusted with. He gave me so much and I just wasted it. It was hard for me to shake, then roughly 2 years after college I had an interesting "revelation." All of this was in preparation to serve God. During all of that idleness, I learned to play guitar and have become a good guitar player and can worship him through music. I struggle with tobacco addiction, but I realized if I could quit that, I could quit anything. I saw the struggles that some people had with booze first hand. (Before college I had always been judgemental.) Then I learned that there was no right/ wrong church or way. A relationship with Jesus Christ and God is right; anything else is just distraction.

Finally, I made the decision to learn more about God. I plan on going to seminary. I don't want to be a preacher. Jesus wasn't a preacher. He was a teacher. He lived His life teaching people how to live...and He lived it out. I'm not doing this so I can stand up in front of the church on Sundays. I am doing this so I can be the church on the everyday. God has given me great gifts, and I don't plan on playing it safe anymore as in your interpretation of Matthew 25. With a finance focus, we were always focusing on return on investment. Is there any greater return on investment than with God? If you just do a little bit everything multiplies. His love and power are awesome.

I like your blog and love your description. I wish you the best as you continue on your journey to serve Christ.