Archives For God

trail

I was doing some internet strolling this past week while in prayer and thinking about ministry leading and I kept getting this picture of a trail guide. Once that was in my brain I did a little searching and came across an article on WikiHow called “How to lead a nature walk“. I found it very interesting and things started to pop up in my brain as I went through each step and compared to the local church and leading towards a vision. Below is the list on leading a nature walk and how it translates to the church

1. Read up about the local plants and animals that live in your area. Field guides are a good introduction to acquiring this skill set. So is tapping the wisdom of long-time naturalists who might live nearby.

Church: Study the word, be in prayer, read books, find a mentor

2. Take a hike through the area beforehand and note any unusual features about the area. Are there nests to observe or evidence of animal activity (beaver damage to trees along a riverbank for example)?

Church: Plan and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Canvass the field. Make sure to grab your compass (Jesus) and fix your eyes on him

3. On the day of the tour, gather your group and assess their physical limitations if any. Will the weather impact slipperiness of trails? Is there a more comfortable, safer alternate?

Church: Assess the people you are leading and their spiritual limitations. Take a look at the plan ahead and see if you need to disciple more to prepare for the road ahead.

4. Introduce yourself. Provide your group with a brief explanation of the planned walk. Give out maps if relevant. Point out comfort facilities; it is a good idea to suggest a rest stop before heading off. If you have any heavy props to show, this is a good time to do it (to avoid carrying them, or forgetting them at the end of the walk).

Church: Introduce vision, preach vision, and then repeat. Make sure to communicate so everybody understands the vision.

5. Have the members of the group introduce themselves to one another. This way they can get to feel comfortable around one another quickly.

Church: An effective team is most often a team with real relationships. Foster authenticity and community.

6. Ask members of your group to let you know what they would be most interested in viewing, for example, edible plants, birds, nests, burrows, medicinal plants, etc. You can then tailor the hike as much as possible to their interests.

Church: Make sure to ask people their desires and hopes and give them ownership along the way.

7. Find out if anyone is phobic about snakes, spiders, insects or any other animals that you may see on your hike. You may actually be able to help them face their fears if you show them how to correctly handle the animals. At the very least, provide appropriate reassurances as to the group’s safety.

Church: Sin, addiction, fear, etc will always thwart moving forward with a vision. Creating an environment where you can put everything on the table is important. As hinderances come up you will be more prepared to address them.

8. During the tour, ask questions, don’t talk at people. Engage them by pointing out a few things and then let them take it from there. Be open to questions.

Church: Engage people and hearts. Lead by example and as a servant. Don’t dictate.

9. Collect your walk items. Ensure that all your other carry items are with you, such as demonstration props, and essentials such as First Aid, maps, two-way radio, water, snacks, etc. When it’s time to set off on the walk – either lead the way or point the way where appropriate.

Church: Be prepared and well planned. The same God that can change anything with a word also honors those who plan and are good stewards of His work

10. Give presentations where appropriate during the walk. When you make your stop to wait for the group to catch up, adjust your position so that you are positioned in the middle of the group. With you at the middle of the group, the whole group has a better chance of hearing your talk and seeing any activity.

Church: Use every opportunity to preach Jesus. In the same way Jesus entered our story we have entered His and taking time to remind people along the way is important.

11. Be aware that there will always be stragglers. If you’re leading without others, take a head count and silently add up the numbers at regular intervals. If you’re lucky enough to be a leader with a few sweepers, use the sweepers to check if everyone has arrived at a stop. One of the sweepers can always be elected to return to base if needed, without disrupting the whole group. If you have a very large group that feels unwieldy in terms of managing, it might be better to break this large group into smaller groups, making sure to keep people with their family/friend groupings.

Church: Press forward and take care of those who drift. Make sure not to let one persons problems monopolize or deter the group from the vision and instead equip people to care and mentor them.

12. Prefer frequent shorter stops over longer, less frequent stops. When you have a group of mixed fitness, interest levels, and stamina, it is best to make stops short and frequent, so as to maintain the group’s attention.

Church: Short rests are fine. Burn out ends vision. Avoid long breaks because it breed complacency and makes people selfish and give up on the vision

13. Children are amazingly observant – and they usually are more interested in animals than plants and other non-moving things, so if they’re along, focus on their interests too!

Church: Jesus said let the children come to me and we are to have the heart and faith of a child. We need to watch them and listen to them along the way because they see and feel things in ways we never will.

14. Allow time for photo-taking. Depending on the length of the walk, drink and refreshment breaks will also need to be considered. Find clean, dry, sturdy logs, mossy or grass patches, etc. to sit on for a rest where needed.

Church: Take time to breathe. Go out with your wife. Play and enjoy life. Take a rest and get away from the noise. Getting burned out kills vision and drive

15. When the tour is completed, ask people what their favorite part was and note that for your next field outing.

Church: When tasks are done; when vision is complete; when God brings visions and victories… talk about them; document them; take pictures so you can learn and always have a reminder of God’s faithfulness

16. Finish with a stirring message that recaps the experience. Ensure that it includes conservation messages that draw on what the group has seen, so that their experience informs them about the future opportunities for stewardship that they might be able to participate in directly too.

Church: With every journey make sure to lead people in a way that teaches that each “hike” is a trip towards the larger vision of caring for people and leading them to Christ.

Obedience, peace and risk

October 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

change

The true follower of Christ will not ask, “If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?” Rather he will say, “This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!”   A. W. Tozer

Over the last 7 years many people have asked me why I write on this blog. My answer is always the same: Many times when God did something in the bible, people set up an altar as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. They were Monuments to mark the thin places in life where heaven meets earth. That is what my blog is. It is a digital rehearsal of the faithfulness of God in my life. May this post serve as an altar and reminder of the great things God has done:

God took me on an amazing journey last year when he asked our family to leave the church we were in for 6 years to take a position as Worship Pastor at another church in the same town. I have been the worship pastor of EFC Newport for the last year and have seen God do such amazing things.

Today the church will be announcing my resignation from my position. God spoke to myself and a few friends to step out in faith in this decision. Our family will not be attending another church at this time, but instead will be stepping into the dimly lit path set before us. We are very excited about the risks we are taking in being obedient to God’s call. We have such a “wild peace” with this decision. Sometimes obedience makes no sense. Sometimes it costs greatly, but I think the risk and cost is greater when not doing what God says. Right now we are walking in that thin place and waiting on the leading of the Lord.

Kelly and I are going to really miss this church and the wonderful people in it. I have been honored to serve as one of the pastors in the church and be able to teach and lead worship. We feel privileged to have made so many friends and to be able to watch God change peoples lives. Our kids have been mentored by fantastic teachers in the children’s ministry and we are very thankful for them.

This isn’t easy on us, but God was clear. This isn’t safe, but there is peace. There is nothing more excitingly dangerous than knowing you are directly in the center of God’s will.

Our family is praying that God will unleash His anointing on EFC and that the church will always be a place where the lost can encounter the living God.

 

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Luke 24:31
Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.

Matthew 20:32-34
Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ He asked. ‘Lord,’ they answered, ‘we want our sight.’ Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him.

We have the tendency to have tunnel vision in our walk.
We like to stare straight ahead.
We look at our circumstances and let them define our destiny.
We look at our problems and let them cripple us.
Like the men on the road to Emmaus, we can commune with God and yet never even be aware who He is.
Like the blind men we need a touch from Jesus to see clearly.

I want to see the way HE sees…

It is NOT an Audience of one

February 19, 2013 — 5 Comments

goatsI have many pet peeves with “christianeze” or Christian slogans meant to erase untruths by introducing more untruths.
One of these phrase really drives me nuts. It is when people say to leaders in the church:

“remember…this is for an audience of One”

Let me clarify here that I know what people are trying to say. They are basically reminding the leader that we do everything for God and only His opinion matters. It is the concept that even if there is nobody in church on sunday that we should still worship the King.

The problem is we are taking a flawed phrase to express this and creating an even worse mantra for the church to spout off.

As leaders and even as Christians in general we are should be doing all we do for God, but there is a much larger audience than one.

The entire Body is an audience
Our community is an audience
The lost are an audience

1 Corinthians 14:13–19
“13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider2 say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

This text is discussing the “gifts of the spirit”, but also tackles prayer as well. Paul basically says that if you are going to say something outloud that your “audience” has grown to those around you and then what you say should be clear. The gifts of the Holy spirit have been given to us for the edification of the Body. What that means is yes we bless the Lord, but it is meant to bless the church as well with clarity.

This same thing holds true for our walk. We are always leading. We either lead others to Christ or away from Christ. Because of this our walk ALWAYS has an audience.

1 Corinthians 13
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

What this is basically saying is: It doesn’t matter how great of a preacher, worship leader, mother, school teacher etc… you are. If you don’t love others you are not doing what you should be for your God.

In Matthew 25 it speaks of the separation of the sheep and the goats. in the message it says:

“Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’”

Are we so stuck on our Audience of one that we can’t even see those in need right in front of us?
Are we so stuck on our Audience of one that we are not aware that others are watching us and forming their opinions about God based on our actions?
Are we so stuck on our Audience of one that the LAW in our hearts outweighs the grace we give out?

I am currently reading “Day of War” by Cliff Graham. It is the story of David and his mighty men. This book is amazing, inspiring and convicting. I think it is important to remember to worship our KING and that we need to be listening to the Holy Spirit for more awareness in the rest of the “audience” watching us every day. This quote struck a chord with me when thinking about this mentality as leader showing that our “audience” needs us to LOVE lest we become a clanging GONG.

“Men don’t follow speeches, Eliam. David gave terrific speeches, but his men followed him because they loved him. Speeches don’t make you stab a man in the guts or slice through his neck while his blood sprays over you. If you ever lead troops, remember that. Be there with them. Suffer with them. Bleed with them. Then they will follow you.”
-Cliff Graham

God doesn’t want our pious or petty denials of self (be it food or creature comforts or whatever), he wants our hearts! Lent is not about fasting or self-denial; it’s about serious participation—here and now—in God’s divine forgiveness with all his people. It doesn’t change God, it changes us. It changes our hearts.
-One of my favorite priests Fr Ken Tanner

A quote on Lent