Monday, April 30, 2007

Tell me, please?

Tell me what your church that meets on Sunday or the Church that lives as the Church everyday is doing to fulfill the Great Commission.

What are you as the Church and what is your church (the Sunday gig) doing to fulfill the Great Commission mandate of making disciples who are also making disciples?

Let's not get defensive here, but let's be honest like Jesus would be honest in how we answer. Many churches will hears the words, "Depart from me I never knew you."

Does that stir anyone like it does me?

What are you experiencing and doing to carry on the Mission of Jesus, the one He died for?

Email and Blogs and communication

One of the huge risks we run into with email and blog land communication is that it can lead to miscommunication. For instance, I am learning that when there is a serious issue and when there is steaming heat in the communication it is best not to email. Email can inflict tones that lead to false conclusions.

In Blog Land the same is often true. However, I do believe there is greater room for heated discussion. Actually I love the open exchange and world viewing conversations.

However, I am learning that before jumping to certain conclusions more questions should be asked and if the steam rolls let her roll.

Until next time, which will be soon, I'll be back for some honest and heated (hopefully) dialogue filled with questions that need answers.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My neighbors!

My neighbors are India -Indians! At our temporary apartment we live to be led by the Spirit. Not by chance, I presume, we are where we are.

*Help a guy push a car that was stalled.
*Encourage a lady who lives with her elderly mother. Offer to help her carry in groceries.
*Encourage a guy with two dogs and all that two dogs leave behind.
*In the middle of grilling supper (on our new little grill), I find myself fixing a new bike that belongs to Breathy an Indian girl who can't ride her new bike, the chain is off, Mom and dad have no tools, dad works all the time. A few minutes and mom says "God bless you!" Within minutes mom brings us an Indian dessert made with carrots and raisins. It was like nothing I have ever tasted, it was great! Breathy has ridden her bike for two days and she always tells me - "it's still working with a huge mile." Mom says, she'll introduce us to spicy curry. I can hardly wait.

Is there another reason we find ourselves in this apartment complex? I look around and I wonder how many are like sheep without a Shepherd. I pray and I carry a heavy heart. I wonder, who I am supposed to reach for Jesus? Will you pray with me?

I would love for my burned down house, lost possessions and burns/skin grafts to have an eternal purpose. I would feel so honored if someone would come to know Jesus the way I know Him through all of this!

Will you pray that I am listening to the prodding of God and pray that I will hear and obey.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Family Update

We are still trying to get our minds around what happened in our fire. This is a true test for me, I must Admit!

1. My skin grafts are healing but are painful as they need constant stretching to avoid further surgery. In a few days I will receive the prescription and more permanent hand and left arm sleeve that will need to be worn for a year only to be taken off for 1 hour of the 24 each day. The sleeve I have is almost intolerable at times, so the tighter prescription with take some getting used to.

I do have pain but am handling it when I can without pain meds.

I and Michelle still wrestle with trying to get our minds around what has happened. Our home is a gutted shell. It is even hard to believe that it is our home. What a mess, and what a tragedy. Michelle thought I died in the fire when the garage roof cave in. What a horrible thing to think and try to handle.

I find it hard to accept that I could not put the fire out myself. It went so fast. I cannot get the pictures of the fire out of my mind. Sometimes I feel traumatised by it all. While we lost all of our furniture and most of our belongings I still wish I would wake up from the nightmare. It's not the loss that bothers me, it's my inability to put the fire out. Had I stayed in the garage fighting the fire I would be dead because in seconds the garage collapsed, but I keep thinking I must have done something more..


Would He, Could He, Should He?

Would He, could He and should He be hired in your church. Would Jesus ever be considered to become the pastor of your church by your search committee? Could Jesus ever be recommended and voted in as your pastor? Should Jesus be hired in your church?

If Jesus became your Pastor in the flesh, what would your church look like and how would it change and how long would Jesus remain Pastor before being fired?

Any thoughts...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Prayer Request

Beginning Tuesday of this week we have leaders all over America and some from overseas attending our Keystone training in Keystone, South Dakota. Before my house fire and burns I was scheduled to be with some of the team members I invited and also my district leadership team, but had to cancel. This is where the guys (and gals) take a serious look at how we do church and how we should be the Church. This is heavy training that stirs the hearts of those attending while turning their world upside down as they view how they have done church over how we need to be the Church totally led by the Holy Spirit.

It about making disciples who make disciples that leads to exponential disciple making growth that leads to God birthed Churches who fulfill the Great Commission as the main thing and most important thing we do.

Please praise those attending for the next 10 days and for Richard Greene as he does the teaching. The Holy Spirit is so powerfully present those attending will never be the same when they go back home.

Please pray that there will be no emergencies back home and no distractions to the attendees. Pray for the safety and for a special anointing upon Richard Greene and staff.

This training is being used by God to bring us back to New Testament Great Commission priorities that will change and is already launching God birthed disciple making and Holy Spirit led movements leading to God birthed Churches.

Please pray for God blessing and for transformation of hearts, lives and the expansion of the Mission of Jesus.

It sure got my attention

The Planter writes: Fort Collins - The Revolution used this acrostic N.A.K.E.D. to describe who they are and what they do. Read on..and see how they use NAKED!


We desire to be NAKED members of our gathering and our communities.

Cheesy? Yes. But it helps us remember.

To that end, we are working on a rhythm of life - individually and as a body.
This is in formation and evolving.

eat, have coffee, have a beer, etc with someone outside the Revolution
community every week bless them by picking up the tab. As with everything we do, we journey in this together community every week.

spend time each week listening to God and
worshiping him through music, art, etc.

spend time each week learning about God
by reading the Bible following our community lectionary
and also spend time learning about the cultures represented in your town

engage people in your “sent place”
find a third place (some place other than work/school or home/church)
where God is sending you and engage the people in that place every week
with the intention of building relationships

bless those people in some way every week

do something dangerous every week - something challenging -
smile at a stranger, teach a class, learn a new skill,
embark on a journey of reconciliation with someone of
a race different from your own, etc…let the Spirit guide you

The Planter speaks, Now what do you have to say about this approach?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

So I shaved...

My friend L.J. thought I was 54. I thought, you are nuts. I blamed it on the ministry. This is what ministry in the church has done to me. Especially the last few years and church.

Then I thought. Once in a while I think! I looked into the mirror and I thought, I need to improve this face. I have a few healing burn scars, what else can I do? So I shaved all the gray beard from my face. Now I have a thin mustache and even my dimples show when I smile.

I said face, You need some help! So I helped it. Did it work? Well, that's another story, for another time.

We get what we get and we have what we have and that's just life. Live with it!

Quite revealing...

Quite revealing! I have no other way to say it. I just renewed my listing on Ministry Search and I read and re-read some of the adds placed by organizations. Quite revealing!

If you visit the site, try to read the adds through a different filter. Strip away what you know about the church and look for the theme of making disciple and fulfilling the Great Commission. Do you find it? How so?

Really, what kind of leader are some of these churches/organizations looking for?

It is revealing when one discovers that what we assume to be important often hinders us from fulfilling that which is most important.

Any thoughts?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Keith Drury from Indiana Wesleyan, Marion, Indiana writes...

Dr. Keith Drury a friend and professor at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana writes "My students"

The Coming Wave in the church

I get to spend my day to day life with the next generation coming along in the church. I see every day hints at what the church might become in the future. I have my ideas about what they’ll do in and to the church, but I’m not sharing that here. Instead I’ll just list 25 prominent characteristics of my students here and let you connect the dots. I’m interested in what you’ll say. If these characteristics hold true for them after college, how do you think this “Coming Wave” will affect the church? (See disclaimers below)

My Students

1. From larger churches, yet value smaller ones. The last study we did showed our [ministry] students came larger churches—the median home church was 700. Yet they really value smaller churches. We’ll see if they value them enough to actually work in one. Or what they means about how they’ll approach their work in larger ones

2. Model of a minister is a youth pastor. They are products of youth pastors. Senior pastors and solo pastors seem like District Superintendents to them—something they might some day do but not on their radar at all yet.

3. Prophetic rhetoric—they are unsatisfied. They think there is something wrong with the church—something really wrong that needs fixed.

4. Expect lots of structure. They “never went out to play” on their own. They were taken on play dates, to organized sports, to dance lessons, to clubs after school. They expect directions and instructions and supervision and help. When they are told “there is no syllabus or assignments in the church” it terrifies them. They don’t seek a job “where the pastor leaves me alone” but want plenty of structure and mentoring.

5. Denominations are good. While they don’t like denominationalism they like denominations and are far more “loyal” than earlier generations. They like the general church even more than districts. If headquarters leaders can hold on for another decade they’ll be in the sweet!

6. Suspicious of all-the-answers approach. They despise cocky know-it-all answers and believe people who have all the answers are faking it or have not thought through things deeply enough. They are open to “other answers” besides the ones that are recited by everyone today.

7. Value orthopraxy—especially right attitudes. A right answer given with a wrong attitude is suspicious to them. Attitudes and treatment of others is more important than right answers. They would have hated the Pharisees of Jesus day—people generally correct in their doctrine but wrong in their attitudes. To them, “Heresy is an attitude.”

8. Holistic—everything is spiritual. Integration is their lifestyle. They pray about everything: baseball, sex, kissing, and light bulbs. A U2 concert can be worship to them as easy as prayer meeting.

9. Assume evangelical church is the mainline. They have never known a time when evangelicals were the minority. They assume we are the mainline church.

10. “Journey conversion.” They were raised in youth groups that expected them to be saved but offered them dozens of times for commitments and recommitments and they assume that conversion is a journey more than an event. Their approach to evangelism is thus helping others on that journey step by step.

11. Value social action—worldwide. They value green, helping the poor, supplying food for the hungry, caring for those with AIDS, acting on behalf of sexual slavery and whatever else Bono says are the acts that a “real Christian” should be doing.

12. “Organic.” They like simple things, authentic stuff, being real and they expect everyone to confess their sins even publicly on their blog. To hide a sin is a bigger sin than the sin itself. And they don’t like fancy—many complain about super-super video streams running behind the choruses and call for a simple white screen—they think lots of boomer worship is fake and almost all bands are too showy. Some even argue that the band should be in the back of the church.

13. Self-centered entitlement. They have always gotten what they wanted and seldom paid for it. They use parental money or borrowed money for life. They have parent-supplied cell phones and cars and swipe their cards for $3.00 coffees at the coffee shop daily. They expect stuff to come to them out of life and are thus slow to express gratefulness. If a boomer shells out $40 for pizzas to treat them they will wander over to the pizzas, glance over the selection then ask, “None with sausage?”

14. Assume a staff ministry. They not only expect to serve with a church staff they expect to have a staff. In my sophomore class when I assign them to develop a church program to promote one-to-one mentoring, they often assume they’ll have a staff to do the work! Really!

15. Minor concern for evangelism. They have a tiny bit of concern for the lost. Mostly their “evangelistic” concern is a pre-evangelism concern for how the world views loud Christians who noisily scold the world for things. They’re embarrassed by the past scolding activism of the church and think the church has more confessing to do to the world than visa versa.

16. Kindness is a central virtue. Thus being unkind is a cardinal sin.

17. IMHO approach. The shorthand web language represents their approach to propositionalism— “In My Humble Opinion.” They consider other approaches to be arrogant.

18. Hard workers—especially in groups. I have never seen more hard workers than this crop of students, especially when they are doing a project in a group. They will work all night if they are working with each other to produce a collaborative project.

19. Leisurely approach to getting started in life. Most expect to get settled in life and ease into life by age 30. My denomination’s ordination system (college plus two years of service then ordination) is designed for my generation not theirs. They feel rushed by such a system and many want to settle their calling by age 30 or so.

20. Despise self-promotion or bragging. The single best way to make them dismiss you is to say anything that appears to be bragging or self-promoting. You can’t even mention your “books in the lobby” or they will totally reject you as a self-promoter clown. Humility is not a virtue—it is the required minimum.

21. Tolerant. The Boomer’s attempts to fight their tendency to toleration failed. It is a central characteristic of their generation.

22. Tremendous idealism and naivety. They really believe they can make the world a better place and can remake the church into what Christ wanted it to be. They are shocked to discover that people in the church can sometimes be critical, argumentative and divisive. “It isn’t right—why is this?” They expect a time of prayer will solve most all problems and if people are right with God they wouldn’t act this way.

23. See the church “doing life together.” Their idea church is a collection of people who like each other and “do life together” something on the pattern of F*R*I*E*N*D*S.

24. Woefully trained in “life skills.” Many have never learned how to balance a checkbook or file their income taxes or make a budget. When they get their first apartment off campus they are shocked to discover that they have to pay for water. “Water??? Why would I have to pay for water?

25. Not afraid of holiness. While many of their parents have hidden the term under the bushel they are keenly interested in the call to holiness and many really think it is possible to become a “fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

The PLanter: I'll refrain from commenting but reall, what strikes you about these assumptions by Keith Drury? Who has their head in the sand, Me, Drury or His students or neither? What strikes you?

I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan and Dr. Keith Drury is a fine learner and teacher. He tends to write out of the box. Has he nailed some stuff or is he behind the curve?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

We could use some help here.

You almost have to read, I'm stirring the pot again, (THE COMMENTS SECTION) TO GET INTO THIS.

Dave DeVries suggests that we have edificialism in the church (a preoccupation with property and buildings). Thanks Dave!

So we have shifted our definition of church to a building, "let's go to church." We have failed to understand that the church is not the location or the building because WE ARE THE CHURCH!

So around the world we have a church preocupation of buildings/our ministries/our mission at the place called the church and we do it well for ourselves.

How can we help others who are trying to break people out of this inward take care of me concept and begin to help them move out instead of in as the main thing. What would you do given the chance to move an inward/self centered church into becoming a giant outward movement as the Church in the world?

We have the edifice complex infection. Where are the antibiotics? What of the therapy? Can we ever loosen the stiffened ineffective corps?

Personal Update

Dear friends,

Please accept our strong appreciation for your loving support and prayers as we try to recover from the trauma of our house fire and my burns/skin grafts.

I'm healing well. The doctors seem amazed at how my first and second degree burns have healed. They also like the looks of the grafts on my left hand and arm past my elbow. I'm having trouble sleeping and I do have some pain and stiffness with the skin grafts as well as the area the grafts were taken from my leg. I have weaned myself off pain medications, so I am making it. Remember, I'm the guy who never gets a shot when I get a tooth filling drilled and replaced. Some call that stupid.

The house is being gutted to be repaired. As of today I could see through the studs of every room and even up into the charred and burned up attic. We lost mostly everything on the first and second floors. But those are things that can be replaced and will be in time. While I was trying to put the garage fire out, I didn't realize it was also roaring in the attic. I got out of the garage just seconds before the ceiling collapsed. So I guess you could say, God spared my life and has more for me to do for Him. When the garage caved in Michelle told me later that she thought I died in the fire. I sure didn't want to leave her to care for this mess alone.

We are in temporary housing and are surrounded by India/Pakistan families. We are already getting to know some of them. Who knows what will happen.

Our new True Vine Church is going great and we are seeing conversions and disciple making by the members. We have our second church in the works under Pastor Terry's leadership with the 20 something's. Praise God!

Your prayers are making the difference as Jesus makes the difference through you.

Michelle and I love you very much!

Bob Carder
1814 Prairie Point
O'Fallon, Mo 63368
(temporary) tel:
mobile: 636.379.9312

Mission District Leader Midwest District, Missionary Church, In

Multiplying Disciples & Churches "Being the Church daily instead of just doing church weekly"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Here I go a pot stirring.....

I spoke to my friend who pastors a small country church in southern Indiana. He spoke a a congregation that almost refuses to see the need nor the importance of owning responsibility for making disciples who make disciples. They love to come in, pay their tithes and go home feeling good about their spiritual journey.

Then he asked about our new Church in St. Louis. I began to get excited because we are seeing things almost daily where God is working through those who believe the Great Commission mandate and accept it personally everyday. We own no buildings. We meet where God call us. In fact, this Saturday we worship back the park. Can't wait. That blessed my friend.

Before we parted phone conversation my friend said, "Maybe one of these days God will bless you with a building of your own." Imagine his response when/if I told Him we didn't want God to bless us with a building of our own. God doesn't need more church buildings on every corner in America. God needs more Churches (we are the church) released and actively invading our world with the Love and message of Jesus redemptive grace.

Lets choose today how we will serve the King and His redemptive message for a lost world. 1) Go to church to gather OR 2)Gather as the Church to go

Has going to church as the main thing hindered the Mission mandate described above? If so, how so?
Would someone please step up and answer here?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

too good to pass I copy and share

The People Formerly Known as the Congregation

Empty_chairs! There is a piece of writing that is virally circulating throughout the Christian blogosphere. I've found, read, and resonated with it so many times that I almost feel negligent about not posting it here. So, here it is.

Allow me to introduce you to the people formerly known as the congregation:

We are people - flesh and blood - image bearers of the Creator - eikons, if you will. We are not numbers.

We are the eikons who once sat in the uncomfortable pews or plush theatre seating of your preaching venues. We sat passively while you proof-texted your way through 3, 4, 5 or no point sermons - attempting to tell us how you and your reading of The Bible had a plan for our lives. Perhaps God does have a plan for us - it just doesn't seem to jive with yours.

Money was a great concern. And, for a moment, we believed you when you told us God would reward us for our tithes - or curse us if we didn't. The Law is just so much easier to preach than Grace. My goodness, if you told us that the 1st century church held everything in common - you might be accused of being a socialist - and of course, capitalism is a direct gift from God. Please further note: Malachi 3 is speaking to the priests of Israel. They weren't the cheerful givers God speaks of loving.

We grew weary from your Edifice Complex pathologies - building projects more important than the people in your neighbourhood...or in your pews. It wasn't God telling you to "enlarge the place of your tent" - it was your ego. And, by the way, a multi-million dollar, state of the art building is hardly a tent.

We no longer buy your call to be "fastest growing" church in wherever. That is your need. You want a bigger audience. We won't be part of one.

Our ears are still ringing from the volume, but...Jesus is not our boyfriend - and we will no longer sing your silly love songs that suggest He is. Happy clappy tunes bear no witness to the reality of the world we live in, the powers and principalities we confront, or are worthy of the one we proclaim King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

You offered us a myriad of programs to join - volunteer positions to assuage our desire to be connected. We could be greeters, parking lot attendants, coffee baristas, book store helpers, children's ministry workers, media ministry drones - whatever you needed to fulfill your dreams of corporate glory. Perhaps you've noticed, we aren't there anymore.

We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We have not stopped loving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do we avoid "the assembling of the saints." We just don't assemble under your supposed leadership. We meet in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in the parks and on the streets. We connect virtually across space and time - engaged in generative conversations - teaching and being taught.

We live amongst our neighbours, in their homes and they in ours. We laugh and cry and really live - without the need to have you teach us how - by reading your ridiculous books or listening to your supercilious CDs or podcasts.

We don't deny Paul's description of APEPT leadership - Ephesians 4:11. We just see it in the light of Jesus' teaching in Mark 10 and Matthew 20 - servant leadership. We truly long for the release of servant leading men and women into our gifts as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. We believe in Peter's words that describe us all as priests. Not just some, not just one gender.

We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We do not hate you. Though some of us bear the wounds you have inflicted. Many of you are our brothers and our sisters, misguided by the systems you inhabit, intoxicated by the power - yet still members of our family. (Though some are truly wolves in sheep's clothing.)

And, as The People formerly known as The Congregation, we invite you to join us on this great adventure. To boldly go where the Spirit leads us. To marvel at what the Father is doing in the communities where He has placed us. To live the love that Jesus shows us.

Thanks Bill Huffhine, my friend for introducing this article to me. Bill's link is on my favorite blog list. Check it out. He is a great writer also.

Monday, April 16, 2007

MY renewed view of schedules...Maxwell taught me wrong!

In ministry if I had it to do all over again, I would....
1. Care less about the emergencies or so called crisis events in the church.
2. Be less concerned about being in the office as much as I was.
3. Have little to nothing on my calendar.
4. Stop doing counseling.
5. Pray more and more.
6. Sit at the feet of Jesus and before His word until He released me.
7. Do away with meetings every night.
8. Get rid of committees that meet to talk about stuff but never do the stuff they talk about.
9. Give my time to Jesus. If at the last minute He wants me to go to the coffee shop instead of to the office - I'm going for a cup of jo.
10.Remember that an empty or marginal calendar is one that gives God lots of ways to use you.
11.Spend less time getting ready for Sunday and more time asking God to show up on Sunday. God never need my time planning things, He knows what He wants to do.
12.Not have a bulletin, a paid staff leading worship, nor would I have a select few involved in the service. You would be the service and the service would be made up of what Jesus had to say to us through us.
13.Keep the children in the service so they could see how God works through the body and not just through the teacher or preacher. Let em hear mom and dad weep before Jesus with grateful hearts or with conviction.

In America we are taught to fill up our calendars before others do. With Jesus we leave our calendars open with more margin for God to use His way. How much of your calendar is God's time and His to use any way He wishes?

My calendar is open! I have some things I have to do and choose to do, like send in my taxes tomorrow. But you would be shocked to learn that I have given my calendar to Jesus. Now I'm learning to let Him fill in the spaces instead of me trying to beat Him to it.

Wouldn't some of you be set free if Jesus filled up your calendar instead of you and others. Wouldn't it be great to have entire Jesus blocks of time to just be out in the world where real people live -work and play? Or better yet, just to be with Jesus on a hillside or golf course or on a fishing boat?

My Daytimer and later my PDA owned my life. I worked hard and my calendar was full. Now I realize it was too full, crammed full of the wrong stuff. All good stuff just the wrong stuff. I had no margin for God. I let myself and others fill my calendar and God was often left out in the cold.

TRY THIS: Empty your calendar, cancel everything and give it to God! Like me, you will be amazed at how God will use you and how many God moments come to you.

If your church fires you for letting God lead you more fully -please don't blame me, just rejoice in what it means to live fully in the Spirit and presence of Jesus. God has better plans for you.

Even your mother in law's coffee will begin to smell and taste better. You may even begin to love your mother in law! Your wife and kids will think you are sick and they will like you sick!

Why do we do it our way when Jesus showed us His way all along. Look at His life. I see little record of what Jesus planed to do tomorrow! He lived for today and God led Him all the way and on the way lives were touched and transformed!

Try this and see if you can begin to understand what I am talking about.If you do, your calendar will never be full -you will have margin for Jesus and for others Jesus intends for you to be with.

Comments welcome! Oh boy, I'm in for it now!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Programmed Ministry is..... Can I say it here?

When the sum total of ministry for you (as a Christ follower) is program driven or dictated, guilt motivated, limited and decided by the church leadership, you remind me of the robot (Tobor) in "Lost in Space!" You young ones won't remember this fine programmed robot, man's (or in this case, boys) best friend with all the answers unless someone pulled his plug.

Like Tobor the robot we may be functioning mechanically, but any tin can can do that.

Why do you think I believe that programs in the church are/could be killing us?

Can't wait for you to tell me how the Holy Spirit leads in this one. Is it possible that we might be limiting the work of the Holy Spirit as we keep our Christ followers in our ministry box? How about thew damage we are doing to the whole priesthood of all believers as taught in Scriptures?

Why do you think I believe "man" programmed ministry is hurting or killing the Church?

Remember: Programs can and often do build the church while often squelching the Church. For the life of me I cannot figure out why all those years in pastoral ministry I spend so much time deciding (with others) what ministries or programs we were going to have. What was I thinking? Seems arrogant of me to assume that I know what programmed ministry is best for you when I didn't make, gift or wire you for ministry. I know you can program a robot to serve your program, but to do it to God's children seems to me gross negligence in the body of Christ. To do so, creates zombies going through the motions, serving where they are told (in many cases) and doing what they are told and expected to be where they are told to be (and when).

"c"hurch is a location or ministry empire.
"C"hurch is the Body of Christ flowing in and out of the Spirit of God.

Why is "man" programmed ministry harmful to the kingdom or am I delirious? I know programs can serve the good of the organization. I'm just wondering what they do to squelch the work of the Holy Spirit working freely through us as we allow His to work.

Now What?

I was thinking tonight as Michelle drug me out of the apartment for some fresh air. I know you are amazed to hear, "I was thinking." After a time of shopping the way women like to shop, LOOK, LOOK, LOOK,(another surprise) but I'm smiling, no buy this time so we moved on to other things as hunger pangs set in.

Michelle treated me to a great alternative to hospital food. She took me to Texas Roadhouse! At 5:00 p.m. it was already packed with a 50 minute waiting time. So since I am working on my patience "skill set" I waited calmly with grumbles from below and never though my lips! Just thinking, I need to eat, I lost 12 pounds in the hospital, I'm hungry and ragged.

Finally, great food, not too much, pretty small portion for me, but filling to say the least and praises for the cook are in order.

All the time I kept wondering why the place was so overly packed and I mean packed before 5:00 p.m. Soon I heard the answer! Lent is over! Really, the hostess told me that they are always packed early on the Friday following Easter.

MY QUESTION: Finally you get to see why I'm writing this post. After Easter, what's next for you and your Church family? Are you gearing down? Are you getting ready to take the summer off? Or is there a surprise for me?

Can you see as I do how programs really do hinder the mission. Example: "Whew...We got through it!" I mean too many are thinking they are done. Christmas and Easter are over, now we can relax. Do you really believe that is true? When in a programmed ministry we forget that there is redemptive Holy Spirit power flowing through us all year, 365 days and 24 hours a day.

But then again, when you think the program is what is important you will do the programs and then feel like you earned the summer off. On the other hand, when you realize the Great Commission and the personal mandate of making disciples who make disciples I have yet to see or hear someone say, I need a break for the summer. On the contrary I hear, "Let's sick em like a bull dog." People need the Lord! Yes they really need the Lord! The Christmas and Easter programs are over and many programmed ministries will wait until next Christmas to try to reach the unreached! Are they serious?

Does anyone see the sadness of all of this? I weep over this picture! People are dying without a Saviour and we are tired! Does this strike anyone as being wrong?

So hear this! When we tire easily in the Lord's work, we tire because we are not doing what is really expected of us or natural! God has a redemptive and relational way for reaching those who search for Him. And the very answer and results lies within the heart of every Christ follower.

We are the hands, the feet, the legs, the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the example and the heart of Jesus! No time for resting when Jesus is coming and millions do not know Him.

What is your response to this? Answer carefully! What you really believe -you really do. Anything less is lippy service! Kind of one of those lippy services we often excel in.

Let's stop just doing church on Sunday and lets be the Church weekly 24:7!

Are you with me? Are you O.K. out there?

Twice given, worth reading twice!

For the second time I have received the book entitled, "The Red Sea Rules". First given to me by Bill Walter, my mentor when I went through a very tough time when I left the pastorate and began a new life. Secondly, I received "The Red Sea Rules" by Dr. Bill Hossler, President of the Missionary Church, Inc. who is also a mentor aand great friend of mine. I really needed the second copy since the first copy went bye bye (up in flames) as you recall.

If you are going through a tough time please remember that the God who led you through the Red Sea will also lead you out.

This is a must read and something worth having a couple of copies of on hand for those special times when you need to help a fellow traveler.

Robert Morgan spells it out in "The Red Sea Rules" and makes the case that God leads in and out of all that we face in life.

Red Sea Rule #1
Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

Red Sea Rule #2
Be more concerned for God's glory than for you relief.

Red Sea Rule #3
Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.

Red Sea Rule #4

Red Sea Rule #5
Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work.

Red Sea Rule #6
When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.

Red Sea Rule #7
Envision God's enveloping presence.

Red Sea Rule #8
Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.

Red Sea Rule #9
View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.

Red Sea Rule #10
Don't forget to praise Him.

So thanks to my two great mentors, Bill Walter from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana and Dr. Bill Hossler, President of the Missionary Church, Inc. who always seems to bring me back to what is really important as we walk through dark and trying times.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

When I needed help - God showed up.

When I needed help and was in great need in an ambulance on my way to a burn center, I knew God was with me and my lovely wife was holding my hand as to comfort me. I was concerned for what she might be feeling as she watch our house go up in flames and she was agonizing over my intense pain. We had God and each other and the support of other volunteers and community servants along with such caring neighbors.

We all need that! Without God, each other and the needed public support we are in real trouble. But there is more!

My new True Vine Church family also played an important part. It wasn't a service, a program or some design of the church that pulled Michelle and I through and continue to hold us up, it is the family of God who love and serve because that's what family does. No one is trying to make sure someone is doing it -it just happens naturally. I never felt like the pastor and his wife needed to hold my hand, they were present but present with my church family. Not better or more, just with and a part of the family of friendship the family of God offers.

In a disciple making movement the family takes care of the family when the family knows of a need. It is time we stop expecting the clergy to cover the care issues and release the Church family to love, just like Jesus loves. Kick the program and release and train people to love each other the Jesus way, for a good beginning.

In an ongoing way the cards from all over, from those stations in life where we have served continue to come in. Again, it is the Christ family serving a couple in the Christ family who are in need and it is just the way Jesus intended for it to be.

I love all of you, even those of you whom I have never met. We are family and we are connected to Jesus and because of Jesus we are connected to each other. I love this. I am connected to people all around the world through Jesus and in this blog! Awesome to believe and fathom! It humbles me and brings me to unexplainable tears. At times I just weep and weep for no reason other than to weep.

On Easter Sunday when the small children gathered around us to pray for us and lay hands on us I nearly lost it and had I done so that could have been the end of the Easter service or maybe something else. Who knows!

As you pray, I'll deal with these emotions that flood over me in unexplainable ways.

I know God is working, I know He loves us, but there are struggles and we just keep laying them at the feet of the One who can make the difference.

Keep touching others in those ways that make a Jesus difference. Thank you for doing that for Michelle and I.

Most rediculous item of the day

Someone told me in an email that the fire and the burns and the trauma may be the result of God trying to tell me to quit, move, find something else to do or whatever.

What do you make of such comments.

I am not quitting! IF He wanted me to quit He would have taken me in the fire.
I will not be shaken to move! I have to stay and rebuild!
I have my call to continue creating disciples making disciples movements.
I came here because I wanted to do something I felt God calling me to do and by the way, something I knew I could not do on my own. What we are doing is impossible to do in the flesh, only God can create this type of New Testament disciple making without all the bells and whistles we call church.

What would you say about anything above?

Monday, April 09, 2007

True Vine is Resurrection proof of Easter

Our new True Vine Missionary Church met together to worship God on resurrection Sunday. On my way to the gathering I was reminded that no one gathering with us this Easter could possible mix up the reason we were gathering. In our time together it seems Jesus is all we have. We have no great service to replicate or duplicate to attract people we just let God lead and as usual the resurrected Jesus showed up in Holy Spirit power.

Let me give you a few observations. Pastor Terry opened our time together with a welcome and the reading of an email regarding the condition of the Ortmann family in the tragic death of our Superintendent's wife Lorri. Supt. Steve's email was filled with praise and victory as the family continues to deal with great human loss. Pastor then invited me to share where I am in the process of healing from my burns. I shared words of gratitude to the family and to God. I am healing, although I have a couple places on the graft that concerns me but overall it appears I am healing on target.They asked what I needed and I told them I need prayer and that is really all I need right now. What followed broke me to tears...

Pastor asked the Church to gather around us and lay hands on us and pray for God's touch to meet our needs. You mean you will do that right now and let the order of the service wait? I don't recall experiencing anything like this on any other Easter service. I was deeply moved, so much so that I could barely hold back the gusher because I am not yet sure how to handle those gushers publicly. I am privately gushing as I try to write this blog post. Here I am in an Easter gathering to worship Christ and then the living Christ begins to move in powerful ways as God moves through believer after believer and even through small children who came up to pray and lay hands on us. What a picture of the resurrection of Jesus, because He is alive - He lives and ministers and works through us to accomplish His will and purpose.

Pastor spoke about Easter worship and we discovered that worship is an act of service or obedience and sacrifice. It's not a "let's go to worship" thing. It is "as we go worshiping we actually worship Him when we serve Him in complete obedience and often with great sacrifice. I smiled as my wife Michelle wrote on her paper next to me, "A worshiper is not a SQUATER but a worker." Boy can you imagine the Easter sqauters out there?

The Martin family, Steve and Judy their grown young adults Zachary and Stephanie led our songs as Jason Hughes hit the keyboard running. They did a great job and in the end it was Jesus who got the glory for the humility and love that was given in our time of singing to Him. Two elders (Steve & Fletch)led communion and wow these guys took me into a communion walk I had never experienced before. Luther tried to get the word out on the priesthood of all the believers and therefore the reformation is still not complete. We have places called churches filled with people who know Jesus but are never viewed as little priests for Jesus! This saddens me. Why have a clergy lead communion when the Church is full of believers described as the priesthood of all believers who could likely do it better? Next Sunday, ask you pastor to let you lead communion and see what he says. Oh, please tell us what he says also.

I left encouraged and loved by my new True Vine Church family, a Body of Christ and not a building for Christ. This family understands the meaning of Being the Church daily and not just going to church weekly (weakly).

When Easter Service was over what did you or others talk mostly about?

Was it Jesus? How many people we had? The choir? The Message? Where did you see God work his power in transformational ways? The decorations? What are your relfections?

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