Why You Should Invite Someone to Church This Week

We played this in church this morning. Can't watch it without tearing up! Watch as Maria shares what a difference an Easter invitation to LHC made in her life last year.


Churches & Video

I think the use of projection systems in modern churches has been both one of the greatest tools used in worship and one of the most distracting tools used in worship. When done right, the video can really enhance the worship and teaching experience. When done wrong, it distracts from worship and the message. Churches implementing video and projection would be wise to get some training in this area to make sure they're not using it in such a way that defeats the purpose.

This photo I found online today cracks me up a little. Note to churches: If you're considering featuring live video on your big screen, make sure you're meeting in a room that's big enough that it's actually needed. If the actual band looks bigger than the band on screen, it's not needed. Also, if your live video is making your band look shorter and fatter---not good, either!


Action Method Notebooks

I recently purchased a couple of The Action Method Notebooks from The Behance Network and I really love them. This has quickly become one of my favorite leadership/organizational tools. The whole point of The Action Method is to help move from "idea" to "action". I've had hundreds of meetings where great ideas were tossed around, but in the end nothing happens. The Action Method Notebook is one of their solutions. It's great for use in meetings.

There's space at the top to write down your agenda. Instead of lined paper to take notes, it incorporates dots to easier facilitate sketches and such. Along the right-hand side of the page are areas to record action steps after all the brainstorming has taken place. And finally there's an area at the bottom to record backburner items (good ideas to revisit later). It's helped me to focus on making sure the result of meetings is getting things done, instead of just meeting. Plus, the notebooks are on high-quality recycled materials, very attractive, and the suede-like cover feels great in your hands. The notebook is $15. Worth trying!

(They also offer a network-style online version of the Action Method and and iPhone app. Both look like they would be valuable tools.)



I want to put a couple of new worship albums on your radar. These are seriously the best worship albums I've heard in a while. Check them out!

North Point Live: Awake

Passion: Awakening


Consider Them Given

1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
  • little league games/practices
  • diabetes
  • a new baby on the way
  • the food I should be eating
  • the food I shouldn't be eating
  • fighting kids
  • a growing church
  • struggling marriages
  • hurting teens
  • terrible 2's
  • exercise
  • office work
  • housework
  • yard work
  • bills/debt
  • the economy
  • worrying about my kids
  • parents
  • hurting friends
  • high-maintenance people
  • the dog
  • upkeep of the house
  • broke-down cars
  • wanting to keep people happy
  • time with God
  • putting off life-goals
  • home-schooling
  • being the man Jamie needs
  • being the dad the kids need
  • being the pastor LHC needs
  • serving the community
  • unwatched shows on the DVR
  • unread books on the shelf
  • list of people to talk to
  • helping people become stronger disciples
  • the lost
  • the poor
  • the sick
  • the victims
  • the forgotten
  • fat belly
  • need to shave
  • stuff I need
  • stuff I want
  • stuff I want that I don't need
  • taxes
  • stupid people
  • how can they possibly answer all my questions about LOST in the handful of episodes that are left?
(I'm sure I could come up with more, but that's enough for now.)


Manchester Orchestra and PKs

Had a great time with Isaiah at the Manchester Orchestra concert at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. It might be my favorite concert ever. They're such a great band. I don't mean great as in "I like them", but great as in there is "greatness" upon them.

Do you remember the first song or album that you really connected with the lyrics? Like do you remember the first time a song or album moved you or really resonated within you? It may sound silly, but for me it was this Michael W. Smith Christmas album that he released in the 80s. There was something about the music and those lyrics that just filled me up. I think Manchester Orchestra's Mean Everything to Nothing is that album for Isaiah. Andy Hull, the lead man, is a pastor's kid. His lyrics often speak to that, his rocky relationship with his dad, his jaded attitude toward church, and his struggle with faith.

After the concert, Isaiah and I had a good talk about all of this. I asked him what he thought of M.O.'s lyrics. He said he really liked them and he said "I really think I understand them". We talked about how it's actually very common for PKs to grow up hating church and eventually abandoning their faith. I told Isaiah that it's actually a flippin' miracle that both my brothers and I are pastors. Not that I didn't fight against it.

I really did grow up bitter at church, partly because of my perception that my dad cared more for the church than he did for us (I don't think that's true anymore), and partly because of the way I saw churches treat my dad. I really rejected the notion of being a pastor for several years, because I didn't want that to be my family's experience. I think the key thing for me eventually coming around to embracing God's calling for me, was that I was able to separate my dysfunctional church experiences from my relationship with Christ. One was screwed up and even abusive, and the other was meaningful and personal. I've since been able to leave all that baggage behind and learn to genuinely love the Church. But it literally took a decade to do it.

That's my goal for my kids. I won't always be able to control their church experience or perceptions of me and my ministry. But I hope they come away with a deep-rooted relationship with Jesus. If that happens, that will be enough to carry them through.

Isaiah and I were able to talk about all of this and he assured me that, so far, he doesn't have any of that bitterness toward God or the church. (I think he identifies more with the lyrics about not getting along with his dad.) He also promised me that if he ever felt any of that bitterness, he would talk to me about it so I could make changes if necessary. It ended up being a great night and a meaningful conversation with my son.

Some people might ask why I would intentionally expose him to bands with these kind of lyrics. My answer is so I can create environments where I can have the conversation I had with him last night. I don't like listening to music where the lyrics are overtly anti-God or offensive to the faith. But I have no problem appreciating artists who share their struggle with their faith. Artists are able to do this in a way that most of the rest us can't quite give a voice to. It's sad, but beautiful all at once.


Chronological Guide to the Bible

I think one of the most valuable things you can study about the Bible is the chronology of it. Most people know bits and pieces of Scripture, but few really get the story. In fact, I would suggest that knowing the story of the Bible is equally as important as knowing the theology of the Bible, and you really can't fully appreciate one without an understanding of the other.

A few years ago, Thomas Nelson Publishers released the Chronological Study Bible. It was a valuable tool, but released only in the New King James Version. The Chronological Guide to the Bible takes all the study tools from that Bible plus the tools found in The Life and Times Historical Reference Bible and compiles them into one volume that you can use with whatever is your preferred version of the Bible.

This is a very attractive, full-color reference book with tons of information on world history during certain sections of the Bible, archaeological evidence, and cultural background info. If you're looking to gain a better understanding of the story of the Bible, this is an excellent reference work. Highly recommended and useful!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Sunday I preached from Mark 5 where Jesus is on his way to heal a little girl close to death and stops to offer life and healing to a woman with a bleeding disease. The main point I focused on was a point I first heard from Rob Morgan of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville a few years ago -- "Ministry happens in the interruptions of life."

I love that statement and it has stuck with me. It's so true. When I allow my agenda to be flexible, notice people, then I end up doing God's work and not just my own. I know God can work through our agendas too, but divine appointments are rarely scheduled.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Do I really notice people and listen to them, or do I just use people to accomplish the things I need to do?
  • Am I solely focused on my own agenda, or do I give God enough access to my life to let him set the agenda?
  • Is there time in your week for helping others, or have you maxed out you day so much that you couldn't serve someone even if you wanted to? What does that communicate to your kids?
Give your day and your agenda to God. Be present in the lives of the people you interact with. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the people that need your attention, encouragement, and hope.


Satan Laughs While I Mow

I finally mowed my lawn today. It was bad. There were sections so tall that the dog would actually disappear except the tip of her tail. It normally takes me about 30 minutes to mow my little lawn, but today it took about two hours.

For me to say I hate mowing and yard work would be a huge understatement. If I had to choose between yard work and a minor heart attack...I just don't know.

I know there are some people who get into it and even find it relaxing, but seriously, if that's you, you're sick and twisted. I'm pretty sure that Genesis 3 says that yard work is the result of sin entering the world (my loose paraphrase). So if you enjoy that sort of thing, you're actually embracing the product of sin and the fall! Just sayin'...


Trust Agents

I've been reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. The subtitle is Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust.

I know a lot of people really like this book. I thought it was okay. It's a great book to read if you're clueless about social media. Trust Agents builds a great case for the value of using social media to improve your brand and it does a great job of teaching social media etiquette. However, if you're very savvy when it comes to social media, you might feel like you're not getting much new info here. I found some great principles here, especially when it came to web etiquette, but I found myself skimming a lot. If you don't know, read it. If you're experienced, maybe read it.

By the way, when it comes to Living Hope Church using social media: we have a Twitter account, and Facebook fan page, a YouTube channel, church website, a church blog, women's ministry blog, and my blog. I will say that it can be daunting keeping up with all of this, but I feel they are all valuable tools. If you're a Living Hoper and you're crazy about social media, let me know because I would love to have your help keeping all our social media accounts current and interesting!

Demons & Donuts

In my last sermon as I was teaching on spiritual warfare, I mentioned that I had been strongly convicted about something while I was preparing for that message. I was teaching that one of the primary goals of satan and demonic forces is our death. Death entered the world because of sin and satan simply wants us dead. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy."

I've blogged in the past about my struggle with my weight and health. I'm literally about 100 lbs overweight. I love food and hate most exercise. I'm a type-2 diabetic and I'm not consistent at monitoring my sugar levels or taking my meds. I have a family history of heart disease. Honestly, I'm a walking time bomb! And there are days I can really feel it.

So the thing I was really convicted about this week was that, for me, this is not simply a health issue. I truly believe it's a major spiritual issue. I believe satan would be thrilled if he could take me out and cut my ministry short and I believe that's exactly what he's trying to do.

On top of that, as a pastor I feel a great responsibility to be the best example of Christian living that I can be. It really bothers me that this is an area of my life that I can't be that example. It's really the biggest area of my life that I'm not just struggling in, but defeated in.

So here's the deal. I'm going to sincerely try, with God's help, to turn this around. I'm not talking about a crash diet or anything. I'm talking about my health. I'm sure I'll lose weight, but that's not really my goal. My goal is healthy living. I want to reverse my diabetes and have a stronger heart. A couple of things:
  • First of all to God, my family, and to Living Hope Church...I'm sorry that I've allowed myself to be defeated by this and live irresponsibly. I want to be disciple/husband/father/pastor for as long as God wants me to be and not a day less.
  • Second...I've asked Living Hope's elders to hold me accountable in this issue. To ask me or Jamie if I've actually been eating right and exercising. And to chew my butt if I haven't.
  • Third...A good friend has committed to come alongside of me and serve as a trainer/coach to push me harder than I naturally push myself. I'm so grateful for this!
I know this will be difficult but it's got to change. I can't continue to allow our enemy to handcuff me like this. Please pray for me. GOD IS GOOD AND VICTORIOUS!