Veteran’s Day Thanks

I always like to watch a little “veteran’s day” movies or shows, especially on Veteran’s Day. That’s the lighter side.

At the deeper angle, I’m sentimental to the military. I served in the Army for 11 years. That time was very formative in my adult life. I learned much in the Army that I could not have learned anywhere else and didn’t learn anywhere else things like …

1. How to work hard

2. How to use heavy weapons

3. Discipline, leadership, etc … the list goes on and on.

Today I still rely on the things I learned in the military. I got out in response to a call to ministry. I’m still living that out.

I’m thankful for our veterans. Love all of you. I can only speculate, but I do believe God has a plan for good for our country to be an instrument to spread the gospel.

Thank you for purchasing my freedom to serve at FBC, Ruidoso, New Mexico.  Thank you for purchasing and protecting the freedom my family enjoys. THANK YOU.

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What the Church can Learn from the Texas Rangers

I didn’t watch much sports this year. The NBA obviously is in disarray. I could care less about the NBA and I would not be upset if the league failed to exist. The NFL is all good. They seem to be alright. I’m watching some games. MLB has been the most fun for me because it’s still affordable and is a cleaner game (for me).

When my beloved Texas Rangers made the playoffs again this year, I was stunned. I’ve not watched a full baseball game this year. I did watch most of game 6 the other night. I didn’t watch game 7 at all. But I’d like to share a few things the “ekklesia” — the church, can learn from the Texas Rangers:

1. We should be thankful for the opportunity — As I look at the Star-Telegram this morning it only focused on how “Ranger Strike Out Again.” The sports media in DFW is sick. I can remember just a few years ago when the Rangers season was over in May. Year after year that would happen. I’m thankful we now have a competing team.

The church should be thankful for every opportunity is has to play. We should not be tearing people down. We should know we’ve receive God’s grace and let Him live through us. So many have not yet heard the gospel. How can we not be thankful?

2. We should realize sometimes we give the game away — yes, the Cardinals won the series, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the best team didn’t win. Texas has a better record but didn’t get home field because of the dumb all star game rule. Texas was down to two strikes two times, but botched it. The Cards were good, but leave no doubt the Rangers should have won, everyone knows it. They gave the world series away. Sometimes we just have to admit it. Players and coaches can’t say that because they sound ungracious but it’s true. They should say, “we gave it away.”

I see this often. Christ followers give away the spiritual game. We have only one enemy, Satan. How do we give the game away?

1. We treat sports as more important than gathering with God’s people for worship, so the church struggles to gain momentum, but we expect God to bless us. In America, cultural Christianity is hindering the church and kingdom push.

2. We don’t really grow in our faith, giving lip service to the spiritual disciplines like Bible reading and prayer, giving and witnessing. Most people are not as spiritually mature as they make it out. They are mature in life but not in spiritual fruit.

3. We don’t model for our kids a faith on fire. It’s more like “we are Christian but other things in our lives come first” so there’s no real powerful change in peoples lives. God doesn’t get second best, He gets the tenth best. I try to remember my faith will be tested by how my daughter lives when she is 18-25 years old. That scares me to death.

Ron Washington probably made a few mistakes. But the bottom line is his pitchers gave the game away. They didn’t mean to do it just happens in sports.

One difference in the spiritual life is the opportunity to win is much easier. One of my challenges is watching potential go down the drain.

I’ve so thankful for those who don’t give their faith away. They are not giving the spiritual game away but are running the race in simplicity — getting the prize.

Bottom line – don’t give the game away.

 

 

Posted in Walk with God | 4 Comments

Bible in 90 Days Update #2

We are 52 days into the reading the Bible in 90 Days. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of our Christ followers at FBC. Here’s an update of thoughts:

1. On November 3 we will ask everyone who is behind in reading to move up to the New Testament so we can finish together.

2. Reading the Bible in 90 Days can at times seem like a chore. But even when it is He still speaks through His word. There’s a filling that comes from reading the Bible in bulk. There’s a confidence we gain from the reading, but also from the mystery of God’s working in hearts.

3. I cannot wait to see how people will improve their “table for two” times with God when the reading is done on Thanksgiving. Many have restored their family altars during this season.

4. I know some people dropped out. That’s the hard part from many angles. My hope is they will keep going anyway and not completely quit. The enemy wants people to not trust God’s word. The enemy wants to keep people from giving God the time.

5. I believe this season, Fall 2011, will be a landmark season in the life of FBC Ruidoso. Real disciple-making challenges separate the disciples from the attenders. Disciple-making is one thing. Attending without it is another.

6. I’m thinking of reading the Bible through personally and with my family next year. Either way, my family altar will remain functional. We will not solo our table for two time at the expense of family time in the word.

7. There’s a big difference in reading the Bible to please God and reading the Bible to please myself. A 7 minute quiet time is not going to cut it.

8. FBC will read the Bible in 90 Days again next year. Why not?

9. FBC will listen to the New Testament in 40 Days starting Easter 2012.

10. I’m still amazed at the stories still coming in from people who are not even members or residents of New Mexico. AWESOME.

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Bible in 90 Days Update

Hello Christ followers and heart friends,

Well, now the reality has hit us. We are 1/3 of the way through the Bible in 90 Days. Let me give you some advice: 

1. Ask “what is God saying to me these days? What do I need to do in response to what He is saying?” 

2. DON’T STOP — if you are behind, keep going. If you are like me — barely caught up 🙂 — keep going. If you are ahead, BRAVO. Regardless, DON’T STOP. When we get to the end of October, and get near the New Testament, I’ll be challenging everyone to either catch up quickly using audio or move up to the New Testament and catch up on the Old Testament in December. If you keep reading, it will all make sense even if you are a little behind. If we do this we all end at the same time. I’ll even be challenging those not in the 90 Days to start at the New Testament. But this is a secret to do tell it all 🙂 And don’t stop reading and wait for the New Testament. Finish strong! 

Here’s how one family in our church has been impacted. I received this on Twitter. She said, 

“this has been so powerful my family has decided to make it permanent. When we finish we will just start over!”

I plan to read the Bible in a year in 2012. I’m using this 90 Days renewal to start a pattern that will last the rest of my life. Reading more Bible than the usual, average, approach. 

I’m so proud of you. And I glad to be your pastor. 

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God’s Cut and Paste

Our church is reading the Bible in 90 Days. It’s been an interesting and exciting journey in just 10 days. Tonight, the reading was some of the most difficult (to me). The reading was from Numbers 1-8 and the hard, yet unique chapter was chapter 7. The chapter would today be called a “cut and paste.” It starts like this:

The leaders offered the dedication offering for the altar when it was anointed, so the leaders offered their offering before the altar. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Let them present their offering, one leader each day, for the dedication of the altar.” Numbers 7:10-11 (NASB)

Then the chapter goes on with 12 days with a leader from each of the 12 tribes making the exact same offerings. You can go read it. As you do, you will ask, “Why didn’t God just summarize the material into one paragraph instead of using 12, seemingly boring paragraphs to make His record?”

Here’s why I think God did a cut and paste with these details and inserted the names of each tribe and leader.

1. God keeps good records of giving. 

2. God likes to brag on the faithfulness of His people.
At Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth there is a stairwell that goes down to the first floor from the second floor. Halfway down the stairs is a huge monument dedicated to the students who died at war. I stopped and read a name or two once. After that, I never stopped. Who cares right? No one cares, unless you knew someone on the list or if someone on the list was in your family. Then, well, of course having the name on that list meant a lot. It’s like the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. If you knew someone, the name of the wall had special meaning.

Each leader and each tribe was remembered by God for his faithfulness. I’m not sure if they cared or not. One thing I do know is that God cared. And He still cares. He will write the names of the faithful … not for their glory, but for His.

If God wants to cut and paste and put in each name, it’s because the name of the person or tribe is important. Be encouraged.

Posted in Theology | 2 Comments

The Bible in 90 Days

A few months ago I was led by the Lord to lead our church to Read the Bible in 90 Days. We started this past Sunday and our people are loving it. Here are a few thoughts on the first week:

1. People are waiting for a challenge. Christians want to read the Bible through but are just waiting for something to get them to where they want to be — biblically healthy.

2. I’ve found the reading of 12 pages a day to be very gratifying. I’ve read the Bible through before. But this is different. Reading the Bible in 90 Days gives readers a panoramic view of scripture. It’s like watching an exciting show every night on TV. It’s more exciting.

3. I’ve been reading the Bible each day with my family around our dinner table. It’s been amazing. My wife, mother-in-law, daughter, and I have taken turns reading a chapter each around the table. It’s been so much fun. We laugh at the “hard names” and words. We are captured into the story. We read rapidly but not too fast. My daughter is 10, but is reading well and is getting the narrative of scripture in her head and heart.

4. The first week is showing me how much I’ve neglected my family on the altar of ministry. Yet in just a few days, it’s been miraculously reconstructed.

5. The stories around our church family are just phenomenal. Our people are so excited and are sticking with the reading. I’ll post some of the testimonies later. But for now, we had a lady who emailed me Monday after church who said, “we are guests but are accepting the 90 Day Challenge. ”

The challenge is the key. Our mission statement actually says we exist to “Challenge all people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” Our world is teetering and people are hurting. People don’t need to be lulled to sleep spiritually. They need achievable challenges that help them walk with God. I’m proud of our church.

Keep reading!

Posted in Leading, Walk with God | 1 Comment

Every Believer a Witness and Simple Evangelism Focus

Would you like to see more people having spiritual conversations with people who don’t know the Lord? Dennis Nunn has tapped into the answer. He has created evangelism equipping for people who will never learn Evangelism Explosion, FAITH, Got Life?, Four Spiritual Laws, etc. The foundational equipping session is called “Every Believer a Witness.” It’s five sessions teaching people to overcome their fears in evangelism and learning to use their own personal stories of faith. It’s amazing and effective.

I was first exposed to Dennis Nunn  when I was in Texas. I was his liason at our church. Then I become senior pastor here in Ruidoso at FBC. I wanted to equip our people to do evangelism. Having been trained by Dennis as a pastor-trainer for his material I taught it. We had a huge response to the event. We had over 100 people at each of the five sessions. We just completed Dennis’ follow up material “Simple Evangelism.” The material was great, but the real blessing for us was how Dennis met with our staff and encouraged us to complete the follow up plan. What’s the follow up plan? After Every Believer a Witness events, the pastor and staff lead the church to “create and maintain a culture of evangelism in the church.” For example, every meeting, group meeting, Sunday School class, choir, praise team meeting, deacons meeting, etc. –EVERY MEETING — starts by answering the question, “who has had the opportunity share his/her story? Give a tract (Steps to Peace with God) to someone? Or who has had the opportunity to pray for a server?” This accountability puts evangelism on the front burner of the church. It becomes normal. The methods are not confrontational. They are relational. They work.

I encourage pastors and churches to use Dennis Nunn. His material is great. His follow up process mobilizes the people of God. Dennis has said this: “Until we get the people of God to understand that evangelism is more about conversation than presentation, we fail to help them accomplish the Great Commission.” We live in a culture that will hear story before it hears outline. Dennis will help your people share their faith.

Posted in Evangelism Equipping | 2 Comments