Thursday, November 18, 2010

Talk to me!

Thought I'd throw out some scripture that has been speaking to me. Enjoy, and I pray that God's word will speak in your life as well. Remember, that to hear Him speak you have to be in his word.

Psalms 9:1(ESV)
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

Ephesians 3:20-21(CEV)
I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.

Matthew 10:32-29 (NLT)
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven."

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."

Colossians 3:5-14 (NIV)
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Acts 4:32-34 (NIV)
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.

This final passage make me think of my church family at the Fellowship of Believers (The FOB). I feel for you what Paul, Silas and Timothy felt when they wrote these words to one of the churches they helped start. I believe it speaks for itself.

1 Thessalonians 2-5 (Message)

Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you're in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A dozen glazed with the bbq sauce on the side please.

A while back I wrote about few of the sentimental reasons I like Ada especially in the fall. I love Ada in the fall! But then last week I was struck by a few other reasons I love this town!

Where else can I get BBQ and Donuts at the same drive-thru?

Where else can I get a flat fixed, go bowling and if the time is right hear a live band all under the same roof?

Where else can I get my boots resoled and hit a bucket of golf balls?

I love this town – some may call these combinations odd, but I call it efficiency!

Otherwise I would have to make two stops in the mornings, one for the donuts holes my kids like for breakfast and another stop for the ribs I like for breakfast.

Otherwise I would have had to drop off my truck to have the flat fixed then walked to the bowling alley, but cut my game short so I could hoof it across town to hear some live music before having to go back and pay for my tire.

Otherwise I would have had to…oh man, I got nothing for a driving range boot shop other than I love that place!

Now you think I’m poking fun, but I’m serious. I love and have patroned all of these places. I love the spirit and ingenuity of the American business person. I love the ability of Americans to diversify and overcome and given the right combination Americans will flock to it because we are a society waiting the next big thing!

This is great! This is America! I love it!

That is until we drag our consumer mindedness into our churches. Then we don’t know when to stop because we don’t know when enough is enough.

Churches should be more than a cafeteria where you pick and chose and take what you want. The church was meant to be a cafeteria but it was also meant to be a hospital, a school and a home. Sometimes literally, but I’m talking figuratively. Cafeteria to be spiritually fed, a hospital to receive spiritual healing, a school to hear God speak and learn from it, and home to feel like you’re among family while you are there.

But how can this happen?

I'll tell you how it can't. It CANNOT happen solely from a catchy message/sermon or good song!! And it can’t happen if all of us show up wanting something week in and week out. And it can’t happen if we think church is just two days out of the week.
And it can't happen without you!

All these places in Ada I mentioned before that I love are all places we are taking something from. And that’s very different from how church SHOULD BE. But in reality, American church is very much made up of people only there for something and I'm not talking about money.

At church we should be giving.
Giving our praises.
Giving our time.
Giving our teaching.
Giving our listening ear.
Giving our shoulder.
Giving our prayers.

Don’t believe me? Here's what the very first church ever did it and it EXPLODED from a handful to thousands in days. (A summary of scripture from the book of Acts chapters 2 & 4…)

Devoted themselves teaching
Devoted themselves to fellowship
Devoted to sharing meals together with great joy
Devoted themselves to prayer
No needy among them because they gave to those in need…even if it meant selling their own possessions
Worshiped together
United in heart and mind
Testified powerfully to the resurrection of Jesus
Enjoyed the goodwill of all people
All while praising God
…and God’s great blessing was upon them all!

WOW! It’s so simple its mind blowing!

Someone right now is saying, “Well what about someone who has never gone to church or the dechurched that show up looking for help? Don’t they need something? They can’t just show up on day one and start giving?”

Yes, this is the place for them and no, they can’t be expected to give on day one and that’s awesome! Because if we have recreated an environment like the first church did then they will come into our cafeteria/hospital/school/home desperately in need and they will meet Jesus through us and they will leave transformed. And at the very least they will show up on day two giving praises to a merciful God that put them in contact with such a loving and generous group of people that they will quickly call family.

And at our VERY least that is exactly what we can give; our praise to God! Our praises for a life filled with blessing and opportunities and stuff that we don’t deserve. He is worthy of praise!!
Psalm 96
1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

The formula here is not, give with the intention of getting!

The formula is giving out of response to an overwhelming love for Jesus because he gave the ultimate for us and even though we abuse him everyday he still loves us. Give for that reason and the natural byproduct of giving of love is you will get…God’s great blessing was upon them all (Acts 4:33b).

If you want something more from your church, start with giving!

If you want to revolutionize your church, start with giving!

I don’t have to venture to guess, I KNOW that the church across America would EXPLODE instantly if we would show up this week and every week asking a single question…

What can I give?

“God, I praise you because You are You and you still love me; what else can I give so people will meet your son?”

“Pastor, what can I give to help fulfill the vision that God has laid on your heart for this church?”

“Elder, deacon or board, what can I give to help you make things happen at this church?”

“Children’s minister who is overwhelmed, what can I give to help create an environment that kids will love to come to?”

“Friend who I know is hurting, what can I give to ease your pain?”

“Person I’ve just seen for the first time, what can I give to help you feel comfortable in this place?”

This so easy! JESUS ALWAYS GAVE!

In case you missed that, He is the reason for church, He invented church, He referred to the church as his bride, that's a big stinkin’ deal and JESUS ALWAYS GAVE!!


What can I give to my church starting this week?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Howdy pardner!

The name of my friend has been changed not to protect the innocent, but rather the guilty. I’m pretty sure, well, actually positive he would love to indulge in this story, but in all fairness today I will change his name to…Keith. Since this is my blog though there’s really no way to tell this story without admitting my guilt as well so, yes, I was present and a participant in the events you about to read.

It was 1993 and my friend Keith and I were out one night doing some “backroading” and looking to get into a little mischief. (Backroading was an official weekend pastime where I grew up. It was to be done at night and on dirt roads, otherwise it was not backroading) Now, notice I said mischief; we weren’t necessarily looking to get into trouble, just a little mischief. So, for entertainment we decided to head out to our local city lake and see if we could catch some of our buddies “parking”. (Parking was not trying to find a place to park like you were at Wal-Mart or something; parking was going into the country and finding a semi-secluded place to slap on some Def Leppard and make-out with your girlfriend.)

Now the fun came when you actually found one of your buddies who was parking and pulled up behind them and shined your headlights into their back window, and continue to do this and laugh to the point you almost feel sorry for your friend who’s desperately hoping this is not his girlfriends Dad! Then when you feel like they are to tears, due to either anger or fear, you sling some gravel and drive off laughing you hard enough to wet your pants.

Well on this particular night as we eased into the city lake parking area, low and behold, there were no “parkers” but there were some “drinkers” and they were from Wayne, 5 of them as I recall. (Maysville students and Wayne students did not like each other and weren’t supposed to like each other, especially if you played football) How did we know they were from Wayne? Because one of these guys, who I can see to this day, was a mountain of a man! He was not a boy, he had to have been a 3 or 4 year senior. He was big, tall, red head and sported a full beard…you see a guy like this once in a football uniform on the opposing team and you never forget him. We knew they were from Wayne!

There they are taking it easy on the tailgate of their truck as Keith, who is driving, pulls up next to them.

He rolls his wind down, hangs his arm out, let’s out a friendly and inviting, “How ya’ll doin’?” Just enough to draw them in a little closer to see who this is, as he looks at me with his infamous grin I’d seen before that without a spoken word says, “Watch this.”

Then all in one motion he hammers it into the wickedest donut I’ve ever been apart of! Just before the dirt engulfed us to the point we couldn’t see, and somewhere about the time I heard the rocks hitting their truck, I saw the Wayne Giant’s jaw drop and eye’s bug out! I still don’t how Keith knew which way was out, because literally it was what reliving the Dust Bowl must have been like, but he found the way out all while I was doubled over belly laughing in the front seat as we made our get away!

When I finally regained control of myself, I looked behind to see a tiny set of headlights, WAY BACK THERE! Then a series of event happens that I still can’t explain. Someone driving about 25 mph pulls out in front of us. Not that big of a deal, except out no where and in the middle of no where and in the middle of the night, there is oncoming traffic. We can’t get around and the headlights behind us are getting closer and closer.

By the time the road cleared the Wayne Giant and his minions were on us and they didn’t find our prank near as funny as we did.

They went around us, asked in a not so nice way for us to pull over, which for self-preservation reasons we declined to do, and then they took off ahead of us.

Ha, they are going on, we think! Nope, wrong again! They are completely blocking the road in front of us and getting out. So we stop in the center of road with nowhere to go other than back, which I had just found out was not a good idea either because Keith wasn’t sure we had enough gas to even get back to town, much less back.

There we were blocked, surrounded if you will; enemy in front, bar ditches on both sides and not enough gas to go back.

Keith looks at me and I can recollect this conversation like it was yesterday.

Keith: “Brown, I’m getting out.”
Me: “WHAT?”
Keith: “Yep, I think I can talk them out of this.”
Me: “Talk them out of it! Have you forgotten you just cut the world’s largest donut these guys?? Which was AWESOME, by the way. That’s why they are blocking the road, not because they want to have a Maysville-Wayne peace talk!”
Keith: “No Brown, I really think I can talk them out of this.”
Me: “You know Keith, I don’t think I can whip you but I will try if you attempt to get out of this truck to “talk”.
Keith: “Then what do you suggest I do?”
Me: “Head at them fast and hard, then hit the ditch and go around them.”

And that is just what we did. I’m not sure if their eyes were bigger when we hit them with the donut or when they weren’t sure if we were going to t-bone them as we flew into the ditch at the last second uprooting a nice patch of sunflowers and partial alfalfa patch and we were off to town, hoping we had enough gas to get there.

So why did I decide to tell you this story?

Because I read a passage in 2 Kings 6:13-15 (NLT) that made me think of this. It’s about Elisha a prophet of God who had upset a king who opposed God’s people. It goes like this…

Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”

And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

Have you ever this way, surround by the enemy?

That’s how I felt this night with Keith and had he not had me there by his side for some wise council he would have done something that would have messed up his world. Actually if we would not have been together in the first place we probably wouldn’t have done what we did, BUT that irrelevant right now. So had I not been there, Keith would have gotten out of the truck, surround by the enemy and gotten pummeled!!

Many times in life we feel like our enemy, Satan, has surrounded us and tempts to step out of the Godly path we are following. And if we are alone or we feel alone it so much easier for him to get to us and once he has lured us away he will pummel us with affairs, shady business practices, overspending, anger, time away from family, addiction and on and on.

So how do we defeat this before it happens?

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 (NLT)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble…A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

What I’m talking about today is an accountability partner.

All the greats have had one.

Lone Ranger had Tonto

Batman had Robin

Marshall Dillon had Festus

Moses had Aaron.

David had Jonathan

Jesus had the twelve apostles…even more specifically John…who he called “the one that I love.”

So what is an accountability partner??

I’m starting to see how this is vital to our walk through life and our walk with Him. And if Jesus had someone he shared his life with then why shouldn’t we? I know Jesus didn’t need someone to hold him accountable but he did have someone to share life with.

Let me start be saying what an accountability partner is not.

· Someone to sit around and talk about the game with
· Someone to complain to about what your spouse is or isn’t doing for you
· Someone to share the latest and greatest gossip around town with
· Someone to get you out of the house and away from the family with for an hour a week
· Someone of the opposite sex - NEVER EVER
· And finally it is not your spouse – I’ll explain later

I just recently sought out my accountability partner and in doing the research it inspired this post and a recent message I gave at our church. Because more I’ve gotten into ministry and really farther along in my walk with God the more I feel the forces of Satan surrounding me like Elisha. This is just a byproduct of a deeper walk with the Lord. The devil hates this and will do anything to stop it! As Denver said in the book Same Kind of Different as Me, “When you is special to God you is important to the devil.”

And you know what? I’m a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t do this sooner!! It took the weight of ministry to see that I need another brother in Christ to share with. The words in Ecclesiastes should have been a reality to me so much sooner!

Two is better than one…
If they fall they can help each other up…

And that’s what an accountability partner is.

· Someone to share with
· Someone to else to go through life with
· Someone else to learn from
· Someone to hold you accountable (This is why earlier I said not your spouse b/c this person will be holding you accountable to your spouse and ensuring you are being upright in your family and marraige)
· Someone to pray with you and for you

Hear this today…One of the greatest lies of the devil is that you can do life alone. He will convince you that you can do it without Jesus and without the support of good Christian friends!

You know what you will find if you really get into this?

If you really decide to do this?

You will find out that you are not alone, in fact not only do you have someone to tell this to, but you will find out that they share the same things that you are going through and were just as afraid as you to share it with anyone.

Two is better than one…
If they fall down they can help each other up…

So what kind of person are you looking for?

o Someone you can trust
o Someone you can be comfortable with
o Someone who is STRONG enough to be honest with you – it is useless if the person you choose will not be honest with you – ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER MEANS SOMEONE THAT WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE
o They will be real with you when you’ve stepped over the line
o Someone who can give you grounded Godly advise
o Someone you know you can call at midnight and it will be okay
o This may or may not be someone you are buddies with right now, this may be someone you admire that you know you trust and feel comfortable talking too.

Two is better than one…
If they fall down they can help each other up…

So as I started to research the “How’s” of this relationship I found out the accountability guidelines are pretty simple and make sense.

I even consulted one of the pastors I follow and all the answers and stuff I read was about the same.

Honesty and Consistency

o Honesty – pretty evident right – no use in wasting anyone’s energy if we’re not going to be honest
Here’s what you can start by talking about
o What are praying about for yourself
o What are we struggling with
o What are you spending the majority of time doing
o What are you reading in your bible or what are you wanting to start – START TOGETHER
o Here’s a good link to consider for questions you might ask each other. Questions
o Consistency
o You need to talk weekly – if something is going on in your life it can spiral out of control in two weeks! Thus why your person needs to be someone you can call at midnight!

Honesty and consistency!!

Two is better than one…
If they fall down they can help each other up…

Don’t believe the devil’s lie that you can do this alone!

Find a strong trustworthy partner!

Start praying together, being honest with each other and meeting together weekly!

Give it one month and I PROMISE you will see a change in your life and you will start to feel what the writer of Proverbs felt when he wrote in Proverbs 27:9 (NLT)

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense