Thursday, May 31, 2007

Henry Blackaby on Leadership...

"Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God's agenda." --Henry Blackaby

My Deacons and I are reading through Henry and Richard Blackaby's book, Spiritual Leadership. The task of a spiritual leader is described in five statements.

  1. "The spiritual leader's task is to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be." Everyone has an agenda but only God has the power to guarantee that his will be accomplished. A true leader will lead people away from their agenda and onto God's agenda.

  2. "Spiritual leaders depend on the Holy Spirit." Only the Holy Spirit can change people. So, spend more time praying and less time complaining.

  3. "Spiritual leaders are accountable to God." God's opinion is the only one that really matters. We all need to get to the place where we don't care if we get fired.

  4. "Spiritual leaders can influence all people, not just God's people". God used all kinds of people to accomplish His purposes in the Bible--not just His people.

  5. "Spiritual leaders work from God's agenda". Blackaby says, "the greatest obstacle to effective spiritual leadership is people pursuing their own agendas rather than seeking God's will" (Spiritual Leadership, p23).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

10 Reasons to go to San Antonio...

I have not attended an SBC annual meeting since Salt Lake City. When was that....1998? I don't remember exactly when it was but I had a great time. Why haven't I gone back? Well, convention and conference money is always tight and I want to get the most "bang" for my church's "buck".

So...why I am going to San Antonio for the Southern Baptist Convention this year?

  1. I've been asked to serve on the Credentials Committee and it would reflect poorly upon me if I skipped.
  2. I'm really hoping that revival may in fact break out and I don't want to miss it.
  3. I am excited about change within our denomination and I want to support it.
  4. I'm taking my dad with me (he hasn't attended since St. Louis--1980?).
  5. I have, at times, been extremely proud of my denomination and hope to be so again in SA.
  6. I love San Antonio.
  7. I'm looking forward to meeting men that I know only through blogging.
  8. Casa Rio is a great meal at a great price. Check it out here.
  9. I want to get my free book from the Annuity Board (excuse me...Guidestone).
  10. I'm committed to doing my part to help make the SBC the best that it can be.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Four Chaplains...

Today for Memorial Day, let me share with you the courageous story of the The Four Chaplains.

On February 3rd, 1943, at 12:55 in the morning, the USAT Dorchester, carrying 902 servicemen took a torpedo mid-ship and began taking on water rapidly. Less than twenty minutes later the ship would sink beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic. Panic and chaos was rampant aboard the ship as men sought to save their lives pushing and shoving to find a place in one of the lifeboats. The four chaplains who were aboard ship spent the final twenty minutes of their lives handing out life vests, even giving their own vests up when the ships supply ran out. The chaplains went down with the Dorchester while continuing to shout prayers and words of encouragement to those who would die with them. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains--arms linked and braced against the slanting deck.

The Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart were awarded posthumously December 19, 1944, to the next of kin.

The Four Chaplains are: Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed.

You can read more at the The Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pre-Summer Cowboys Update...

I tend to ignore my favorite spectator sport, football, after the Superbowl and do not start to notice the NFL again until July. A friend asked me a question about my beloved Cowboys this morning and I was speechless. So...I've decided to do a little late May catch-up with the Cowboys. Here is what every good Cowboys fan should know at this point...

Wade Phillips was hired on February 8th as the head coach.

A New stadim is being built.

North Texas will host the 2011 NFL Superbowl!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Will Not Be Voting for...

I'm not sure at this early date who my favorite presidential candidate will end up being. I have eliminated a few contenders, however.

I will not be supporting Hillary Clinton.

I will not be supporting Mitt Romney.

I will not be supporting Rudy Giuliani.

I will not be supporting John Edwards.

I will not be supporting John McCain.

I will not be supporting Ron Paul.

I will not be supporting Barack Obama.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Deacon Retreat...

Every year we take some time for our Deacons at Cornerstone to retreat for a time of personal recommitment and spiritual renewal. It's one of my favorite events each year and I feel like it sets the pace for where our church is going. For several years we would retreat to the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. We would rent a vacation home for the weekend and our times together were always wonderful experiences of fellowship and prayer. As our size has grown we have had to move into larger facilities to accomodate the additional deacons that we have been bringing along. For the second year in a row, we traveled to Larkspur to stay at our Colorado Baptist owned camp--The Ponderosa. It's not quite as nice as the digs that we enjoyed at the YMCA but it fits our budget much better.

This year's retreat was primarily a series of brief Bible studies focusing on the person and the work of a deacon. Much time was devoted to personal and corporate prayer and we attempted to prayerfully make application of what was being revealed from the Scriptures. Let me share a brief outline of what we experienced.

Friday Night: 7pm--Personal Prayer, 7:30pm--A Deacon's Character (1 Timothy 3), 8:00pm--A Deacon's Growth, 8:30pm--Personal Prayer, 9:00pm--A Deacon's Power (Acts 8:4-13), 9:30pm--A Deacon's Commitment (Acts 6:8-7:60). The commitment session was held around a camp fire where we received communion together. The idea was for each of us to embrace the courage and love of Stephen in becoming willing to die for our Lord and for the people that He has given us to serve. We finished up with a study on the Parable of the Talents that led us to begin viewing the people of Cornerstone as treasures (talents) that God has given us to care for and to grow.

Saturday: 8:30--Personal Prayer, 9:00--A Deacon's Message (Acts 8:25-40), 9:30--A Deacon's Koinonia, 10:00--A Deacon's CARE, 10:30--Selection of Family CARE Groups. This is the time when our Deacon's personally and prayerfully select the families that they will be caring for throughout the year. 1:00--A Deacon's Vision. We finished up at 2:00 clock by heading down to the 40 foot climbing tower where several made it up the cargo net and bravely came back down on the zip line.

We had some powerful experiences of prayer during the weekend and I think that we all came back with a passion to faithfully care for the families that God has brought to Cornerstone. Our Deacons are tasked with the responsibility of providing CARE for the families that they select. CARE is an acronym that stands for C-haplain, A-ccountability, R-esources, and E-ncouragement. These are the bottom-line services that our Deacons provide. We consider Deacons to be the primary guardians of the fellowship (unity) of our church. During the time that we provide for response in each of our worship services, I often have several of our Deacons join me at the front of the worship center to receive those who are making decisions and to pray for those who would come forward for prayer. Cornerstone has one of the best Deacon ministries of any church that I have ever been a part of. These men are truly my partners in ministry.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Easter Pictures...

These are a few pictures from our Easter Celebration at the Windsor High School. This first one is of the whole group--500 of us!

This one is of me in action...not sure what I'm saying...

These are the vocalists with the worship choir standing behind them on the risers. If you look really close you can see Tina sitting at the keyboard on the far side of the stage

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Children as God's Greatest...

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14). The Kingdom may belong to the children but do they have the right to vote in a church business session?
I would expect that if children have very little to contribute to the church because of their underdeveloped intellect and their lack of experience with the world's ways, that God would pass them by in order to find more qualified candidates for service. I would expect that there would be few if any examples of God using these "weak" ones.
Allow me to share with you seven biblical examples of God speaking to and working through children:
  • Mary who conceived by the Holy Spirit and brought Jesus into the world (Luke 1:26-38).

  • King Josiah who took the throne of Israel at age 8 (2 Kings 22:1-2).

  • David who through the power of God slew a giant (1 Samuel 16:7-13; 17:33, 42, 55-56).

  • Joseph who received prophetic dreams (Genesis 37:1-11).

  • Samuel who heard the voice of God (1 Samuel 2:18; 3:1-19).

  • John the Baptist who recognized Jesus in the womb while in the womb himself (Luke 1:41-45).

  • Jesus who taught the teachers at age 12 (Luke 2:40-52).

So, if God has used children in the past--why couldn't he also use children in the present and in the future? Is it possible that a church could cut itself off from the influence of these "kingdom owners" by denying them the ability to fully participate in church decisions? Isn't the "eye" guilty of saying to the "hand", "I don't need you" by closing our ears to the voices of our children? (1 Corinthians 12:21).
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me" (Matthew 18:1-5).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Children as Spirituals...

The question is, "Should children under 18 be allowed to vote in church business sessions?" I believe that the answer to the question has more to do with the Holy Spirit's indwelling power than anything else. Adults will logically come to different conclusions on any given subject including this one. That explains why such a thing as a "church fight" exists. Minds will often differ and and as a result will produce division . . . but the Holy Spirit will always be united!

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that though there is diversity in the Body of Christ, there is "the same Spirit" (v4), "the same Lord" (v5), and "the same God" (v6). "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). Note that all Christians are baptized into the same body through the same Spirit regardless of race or heritage. All Christians are indwelt with the same Holy Spirit of God regardless of anything else including age. In fact, Jesus went so far as to say that the greatest occupants of Heaven are the children! (Matthew 18:1-5). Look at what Paul says in verse 24 of 1 Corinthians 12, "But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked (honor)". The children who appear to be the weakest members of the Body of Christ are in fact the greatest members and therefore are worthy of the greater honor! Are believers who happen to be children indwelt with the same Holy Spirit that lives in adult believers? Absolutely Yes! Are children then, under the Holy Spirit's leadership, able to make spiritual decisions along with the rest of the Body? Again, absolutely yes!
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happend to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke 1:41-44). Is it possible that John the Baptist while in the womb recognized the Lord Jesus while he also was in the womb? Apparently, yes! Now tell me, if a yet-to-be-born baby can recognize the work of God--why couldn't a young adult believer who is 17? or 16? or 6? It's not about mental ability . . . it is about Spirit-ability!

Children as Church...

We are in the process of reworking our Constitution and Bylaws at Cornerstone and have bumped into a previously held rule that prohibits children under the age of 18 from voting in congregational business sessions. I have not previously seen this prohibition in any Southern Baptist Church of which I have been associated.

The rationale for not allowing children to vote seems to run in two primary streams of argument:
  • #1--Children do not have the mental development or maturity to cast a vote.

  • #2--Large families would have increased influence in church decisions through their children.

I can appreciate both of these arguments as rational and reasonable. However, we must ask some other questions in order to make a sound spiritual decision based upon the biblical record.

Question #1--Does the Holy Spirit indwell all believers including children?

Question #2--Are there biblical examples of God speaking to and through children?

Question #3--Should we be concerned with mental development or spiritual development?

Question #4--What would Jesus do?

I'll be posting over the next several days the answers that I am finding to these important questions.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Baseball has been very very good to me...

Lately, I have found myself retreating to the sanctuary of my 12-year-old son's baseball games. It's a great two-hour escape! "Let's see...constitution and by-laws committee meeting?...or baseball? Hmmmmm....BASEBALL!!!" I'm not much of a "meeting-kind-of-guy". I'm not intellectually challenged by debating how old one should be before being allowed to vote in a church business meeting. I weary of debating the intricate nuances of joining the church by letter versus by statement. I would rather watch my son steal second! I am "honored" to chair our state convention's executive board. The title comes with its fair share of meetings. How easy it is to let my mind wander out into the green pastures of left field as we discuss disengaging pastors and their disengaged churches. Tomorrow I will meet for lunch with other pastors in our association. In the midst of our meeting, I'm sure that I will find a way to share of the pounding that my son's team gave to the Johnstown Riders tonight. I will passionately share of his 4 for 4 night at the plate while trying to show interest in the stories that others will tell of stewardship campaigns and parish politics. Even now the smile on my face has turned to despair as I have realized that I have unintentionally allowed a wedding to be scheduled in the midst of the Longmont Tournament this weekend. Perhaps, I'll phone my wife at the baseball field during the wedding's musical interludes in order to keep up with the game's highlights. Yep, I'll be able to make it for the second game if I don't take the time to change first. I'll be the one in the stands in a black suit sporting a lovely red carnation on my jacket's left lapel. Yes is a wonderful escape! Earlier today, I met with one of our college students from Hawaii who was led to Christ in a campus Bible study by another one of our college students. We talked about the life-changing salvation that Jesus has brought, about the symbol of baptism, and how this student should invite as many friends as possible to come witness the baptism that will take place on Sunday morning. The college student who led this person to Christ will have the honor of conducting the baptism. Funny thing is....I didn't think of baseball even once...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fellowships' Five Facts...

Dr. Ken Hemphill keyed in on "Nurturing Biblical Fellowship" in April's SBC Life. You can access the entire article here.

I had the priviledge of attending Southwestern Seminary during Dr. Hemphill's tenure as president and studied the book of 1 Corinthians under his teaching. He is an excellent communicator with a depth of knowledge in the area of spiritual gifts.

I've come to the conclusion after 20+ years of church-related ministry that the church's fellowship is one of the most critical aspects of church health. Unity within in a local body is absolutely essential in order to see Holy Spirit empowerment. With that in mind, Dr. Hemphill's thoughts on biblical fellowship are very timely for our denomination and our individual churches.

Dr. Hemphill identifies five undeniable truths of fellowship within the church:

  • Truth #1: Fellowship is not optional to biblical Christianity! Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34, 15:12, 17). Dr. Hemphill says, "It is an inescapable truth--we cannot belong to Christ without belonging to a community of believers".
  • Truth #2: Fellowship with other believers is essential to personal spiritual growth! "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:17-19). The love of Christ surpasses knowledge! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:1, "But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.".
  • Truth #3: Fellowship is essential to ministry since the unified body is the platform for the proper functioning of the spiritual gifts! According to Ken Hemphill, "In every passage where spiritual gifts are mentioned the issue of unity of the body and the common good are always preeminent".
  • Truth #4: Authentic fellowship can only be found in Christ! Dr Hemphill stresses, "For the early church koinonia was a group of believers who were bound together by their common loyalty to Christ. Our fellowship crosses racial, cultural, gender, and other artificial boundaries to find its basis in Christ alone."
  • Truth #5: Fellowship is essential to Kingdom expansion! According to Hemphill, "The church that practices biblical fellowship will function like a magnet to the fellowship-hungry world".

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Joy of Life Change...

Philippians 1:27-30

"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . ." (v27). Christians are to live their lives in a way that affirms Christ's gospel--in a way that makes it valuable. Since the centerpiece of the gospel is gracious life-change, the best way in which we can demonstrate it's worth is by allowing Christ to completely change our lives.

"standing firm" (v27). We are to stand our ground! We must put on the spiritual armor that God has provided for our protection. Take a look at Ephesians 6:10-18.

"one spirit" (v27). There is only one Holy Spirit who indwells all Christ-followers. There is an amazing unity that can exist among believers when we are all following and listening to the unified Spirit of God.

"one mind" (v27). The gospel is evidenced when the church is able to come together with one will--one purpose! If each of us is submitted to the Holy Spirit's leadership, then we will be united in mind. The Holy Spirit is not divided and He is not dividing Christians. We are divided by our own rebellion to the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God.

"striving together for the faith of the gospel" (v27). "Faith" is confident belief in what remains unseen. The "faith of the gospel" then is the confident belief that the gospel will be effective in the lives of those who receive it. The church comes to together to struggle for ongoing life-change in it's members.

"in no way alarmed by your opponents" (v28). Lives that are being transformed by the power of the gospel have nothing to fear. Christ's transforming power is evidenced by fear being replaced with love in the lives of those who know Christ.

"but also to suffer for His sake" (v29). We not only have been given the ability to believe but also the ability to suffer for the sake of Christ. The manner in which we may endure suffering gives evidence of Christ's transforming power. It's not culturally popular to speak of our need to suffer but it is biblical!