Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Confusing God

Our God is both terrifying and tender, compex and simple. He is holy yet accepting, just but merciful, majestic and personal. His a God of wrath and a God of compassion. He is a God who stretches us way out of our comfort zones and the God who provides for every need. He is the God who puts us in the middle of the fray, yet who is our refuge and deliverer.

As church planters we are walking hand in hand with Him. He typically will not let us forget that. We must never fear. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging (Ps 46:1-3).

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Ride: Hal's Reflections on the Past 10 Years

I asked my friend Hal Haller from Daytona, FL to share some thoughts on my blog. Hal is now in his third church plant, so here are his reflections on his last 10 years of planting:

Jubilation. Disappointment.
Victory. Defeat.
Energy. Exhaustion.
Spiritual Transformation. Spiritual Casualties.
Faith. Hopelessness.
Provision. Poverty.
Delight. Disappointment.
Freedom. Pressure.
Hopeful. Helpless.
Success. Failure.
Possibilities. Dead Ends.

I have experienced all of these emotions and experiences and more. I have ridden the rollercoaster of highs and lows in church planting. What’s been wild for me to think lately is that I’m glad I’m on the rollercoaster. The ride is a confirmation that I am following God and an affirmation that he is with me on this life jolting adventure.

The Apostle Paul, church planter extraordinaire, experienced severe hardships and disappointments. Shipwrecked, jailed, beaten, broke and abandoned. Yet Paul also experienced great joy – people’s lives changed and churches multiplied.

I know the Lord takes us through the highs and lows to remind us that we must be completely dependant on Him. Don’t lose sight of what God has called you to do. Be at peace that God is taking you for an unpredictable ride. It will be scary, difficult and yet exhilarating all at the same time. As a close friend always says to me, ‘Enjoy the Ride’.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

God's Working On the Problem

I’m currently coaching about 20 church planters. I love these people – they are my heroes! Their’s is a challenging task. Like me, they often struggle with anxiety – Is anyone going to show up at our meeting? Will we have the money we need to pay bills, to pay me? Will my leaders hang with me? Am I really making a difference? Are we going to make it?

As I read Psalm 44 this morning I realized that God is always faithful, but sometimes He takes us through difficult or uncertain times. This is our call to seek Him more intensely and to trust Him more deeply, and to listen to Him more carefully. We must guard our hearts and minds so that we do not become pessimistic or defeated. We must guard against negative or limiting beliefs.

If we believe Romans 8:28 we will know that there is no problem in our life or ministry that God is not aware of and that He is not using for His purposes. I love Isaiah 64:4, “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him.” Amazing, God is at work for us in every problem we encounter. As church planters, we must remember this. We must seek Him earnestly. We must maintain hope and confidence in Him. God's working on the problem!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Will I Ever Escape Anxiety?

God has always - without exception - been faithful to me! He has been faithful through all generations. I know this and have experienced this. I have no experiential reason to doubt this. Yet I still feel anxiety almost daily. WHY?

I read the Psalms daily and everyday God comforts and reassures me. Again, He is so faithful. So why do I keep feeling this way? Why can't I trust Him? Why can't I abide in Him? Why can't I rest in Him?

Honestly, I love living on the edge to some degree. I love taking calculated risks. That's part of why I love church planting. Sometimes I think I torture myself. I guess I have a love-hate relationship with myself. Church planters are my heros! They are missional entrepreneurs. They are risk takers. The one thing I know is that God is faithful and He continues to be faithful. Maybe my human condition is simply to keep me on my knees.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Coaching Moment

Today was one of those highlights in coaching church planters. One of my planters has been struggling to gather a following and achieve a critical mass to begin his new church. Today he shared with me that the past month has been a time of soul-searching. Some major breakthroughs have been occurring in his heart and mind.

For example, he realized that passionate prayer had been absent from his last several months of work. He realized that he had not seen any significant spiritual breakthroughs or answers to prayer. Over the past two weeks he has devoted himself to intensive prayer, seeking God’s direction and provision. He reported to me today that he has just experienced two very significant “God-things”. He has clearly seen God at work in his efforts. More importantly, he shared with me how God has been changing him!

That’s significant, because God is more concerned with what happens in US than what happens in our church. Why? Because little will change in our church (or our church planting efforts) unless something significant changes in us. My dear brother is now beginning to experience God in powerful ways.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Future Church Planter

Well, I just can't help myself. I'm a proud grandfather. If you didn't meet her a couple of blogs back, this is my granddaughter Sydnie. She's an easy baby and full of life. Very curious about everything. Maybe one day she'll be a church planter! Who knows.