Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rick Warren on Faith and Politics

Saddleback Civil Forum

This August Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback Church will host the two presidential nominees, Sen. Barak Obama and Sen. John McCain for an open form on compassion and leadership.

While the event will be open to the public and mass media, Pastor Rick alone will be asking the questions and moderating the discussion. The forum will be broadcast live on Saddleback's website. Just click here to watch.

Saddleback also released a press release regarding the event. Click here to download it.

I'm very interested in tuning in to the discussion because I believe this is a huge decision for our nation. We need to know exactly what the candidates think about constitutional principles and how their faith impacts their ability to lead and govern. I've been praying and will continue to pray for this event, as well as the national election this fall. Please do the same.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Let It Rise

Yesterday the steel began to go up on the new building. What an exciting day in the life of PCC.

The steel work will be completed by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and then they take another week and a half to put on the roof and siding.

Please take some time this week to drive by the work site and pull in the parking lot to see what's happening. Be sure to pray for the safety of the workers, as well. I had some great conversations yesterday with the construction crews about the Lord and they are excited to be part of building this great church.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kids Camp

I'm standing with a group of children from our church that are headed out for a week at kids camp. I can remember going to camp as a kid and loving it. My dad was the camp cook and he used to make fresh chocolate chip cookies every night for the hundreds of campers. We had warm cookies and cold milk each night. Mmmmm. What great memories. Of course, the greatest memories were that around an altar into the late night hours where I first received my call to ministry and was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

In my devotions this morning I read in Matthew 18 where Jesus said that the kids were the greatest in His Kingdom. Perhaps it's their innocence or child-like faith or both that make them great.

I read recently that most people that are in full-time ministry today felt called by God to do so before the age of 11. My heart goes out to kids and we pray for those at camp this week that God will speak to them through his Holy Spirit and begin directing them towards His will for their life. May this be a defining moment in the lives of our kids.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Church Planting Landmines - Pt. 5

Landmine 9: Misfiring on Hiring
It's true, your staff will either make or break you. I've spent the last 9 months rebuilding or entire staff. It's been one of the most difficult seasons of ministry ever.

I've learned some big-time lessons on hiring/firing, here are a few:
  • make sure you hear from God when it comes to staff issues
  • develop a process of hiring (define core competencies, personality profiles, include other staff in the process, etc.)
  • hire slow, fire fast (in other words, take your time to find the right person, but don't delay to make a change when you realize you've got the wrong person on staff)
  • take no prisoners if loyalty is breached
  • clearly define your expectations with your staff (both personally, work ethics, etc.)
  • hire fewer people and pay them well
  • hire leaders, not "doers"
  • never try to "sell" the position or the church when hiring
  • don't love any one person more than you love the church body (always do what's best for the church family even if it means an individual may have their feelings hurt)
Landmine 10: Delaying Mission Engagement
In the final chapter, many church planters are called on the carpet for not staying true to why God called them to plant the church in the first-place. Many churches drift off mission as a result of distractions from a myriad of places.

Here are some of the ways I'm trying to keep PCC on mission:
  • teach the Word - the right doctrine will keep you on the right mission
  • stay close to Jesus - this will keep you thinking and seeing like Jesus' sees and perceives
  • be "being" filled with the Holy Spirit - ask God for a fresh supply of his Holy Spirit everyday
  • intentionally build relationships with the lost - it keeps me grounded to those that I'm trying to reach
  • take risks - too often I can make excuses for not stepping out in faith

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Church Planting Landmines - Pt. 4

Landmine 7: Fear of Money
I can honestly say that I've definitely stepped on this landmine. The first four years of our church plant I think I specifically preached about stewardship four times. Then, when we bought land and entered a multi-million dollar building project it felt as if I had been talking about money all the time.

Here's where I am on the whole "money" issue. First of all, it's not about money, it's about discipleship. Steward, or how I handle God's money, is an issue of discipleship. If I get it right, I will grow as a believer. Any pastor should preach about stewardship as much as he/she preaches about prayer, reading the Word, sharing your faith, etc. However, we don't because we don't want to offend or come across like many of those in our profession that have abused this teaching.

So, I've come to grips in my hear that it's not about what the church needs, it's about what God wants. I am commanded by Scripture to teach stewardship and to challenge the church in this area so that they don't miss all God's best. Paul did it. Jesus did it. So should I.

Here's a hint: I've never had one person complain about messages on stewardship that wasn't a faithful giver. In fact, all the faithful givers ask me to preach about it more! Go figure.

Landmine 8: Underestimating Spiritual Warfare
Paul put it best, "we are not in a war against flesh and blood." The church is a spiritual enterprise, especially the process of planting a new work. The Devil will do everything within his power to destroy new works of God.

I think the two greatest weapons the Devil uses to destroy pastors are fear and discouraged. That's why God said to Joshua several times, "Be strong and courageous."

This chapter reminded me to not lose sight of the importance of this spiritual battle and to take some of the following actions:
  • increase my intercessory prayer team
  • fast and pray more
  • ramp up my individual prayer life
  • encourage stronger participation of our church family at the monthly prayer meeting

Church Planting Landmines - Pt. 3

Landmine 5: Corporate Evangelism Entropy
When a church drifts from its main vision of reaching the lost and making disciples, it quickly becomes irrelevant and inwardly focused.

Here are some things I'm thinking about helping PCC stay white hot on reaching the lost.
  • ramping up our follow up on those that accept Christ on Sunday morning - we have a decent system in place, but it could be so much better.
  • telling more stories about those that recently accepted Christ
  • promoting water baptism
  • continued emphasis on praying for the lost in our prayer meetings
  • encouraging PCCers to ask the Holy Spirit to help them boldly share their faith and invite their friends to church
Landmine 6: Inadequate Enfolding Strategy
In this chapter, the authors discuss the importance of assimilation process and discipleship. We've got great first-time guest follow up, but could always do better in discipleship. Our main discipleship tool has always been Sunday morning and small groups. While we've had some great small group experiences, it's been difficult to really build this system. This chapter has challenged me to rethink our small group system and make some improvements this fall.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Church Planting Landmines - Pt. 2

Landmine #3 - Leadership Backlash
As a leader, everyone is not going to agree with you - even other leaders on your team. Some common battlegrounds include: philosophy of ministry, vision, finances, worship style, preaching and the list goes on.

I'm fortunate to have a great leadership team that finds solutions for each potential conflict.That doesn't mean we haven't struggled through some tough issues and long meetings.

This chapter encouraged me to begin laying out some of the major changes that our church will be facing as we move into our new building. I want to be as proactive as possible and lead our church through change with as minimal backlash as possible.

Landmine #3 - Personal Evangelism Entropy
Entropy is the natural and irreversible tendency to turn inward which leads to chaos and disorder. For the church planter, they begin white hot with the desire to reach out to the lost. But overtime, the tendency is to turn their focus inward and cater to those already converted.

While there are seasons for evangelistic growth and outreach - there are also times to focus on discipleship and stability.

My desire to continue to keep PCCs outward focus will come through:
  • fall sermon series on reaching out to the lost
  • creating opportunities for continued relationship evangelism (going to Rotary meetings, building friendships with leaders in our community that don't know Jesus, etc.)
  • rewarding those in the church that are winning the lost

Monday, July 21, 2008

Church Planting Landmines

This week one of the books I'm reading is "Church Planting Landmines: Mistakes to Avoid in Years 2 through 10." It's a great read from some road-tested church planters. I'll share some personal reflections on each of the 10 landmines outlined in the book this week and what I'm doing to safely lead PCC through the ministry minefield.

Landmine #1: Ignoring Personal Health and Growth
You've got to begin with the end in mind. Many church planters start so well and end so poorly because they ignore the signs of ministry fatigue and consequently open their lives to the attack of the enemy. This occurs easily when we fail to stay in physical shape, or through inconsistent devotional times with the Lord or even abusing their spiritual authority and becoming filled with pride.

I've committed to protecting myself from this landmine by:
  • Guarding my time with God in consistent daily prayer and devotions
  • Guarding my day off with my family / need to be refreshed
  • Asking others to pray and fast and intercede for me
  • Asking one trusted friend to hold me accountable
  • Eating right and getting in shape (I lost 7 pounds in the past 2 weeks)
Landmine #2: Lack of Leadership Development
I've been reading this other book, "What got you here won't get you there." Church planters must create a culture of leadership development and always encourage those on the team to grow and mature in their faith and leadership.

I've done a decent job at this personally, but not corporately. This chapter has really encouraged me to rethink and retool our leadership culture here at PCC. I've got to do a better job at raising up others and releasing them into the ministry. In fact, I plan on revealing the direction God is leading me in this area this fall for our entire church staff. It would be a little premature to share it now. But this chapter is a must read for any church planter.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day Trip

Today is my day off. I didn't get everything accomplished this week that I had set out to do. But I'm not too worried about it. I'm still going to spend the day with my family. We are headed out to a nearby state park where they have a great beach and BBQ pits. We'll have tons of fun. Hope you stay cool in this 95+ degree weather. Gotta run. The family is waiting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Staying Sharp

This is my Braun razor. I love it. I used to be a Remington man - but I've converted to the light. Nothing like a close shave in only minutes time. My dad bought me my first Braun for Christmas a couple years ago. Lately, it's been taking me longer and longer to shave and then I realized that the blades on this thing must be dull.

Yesterday I got a new set of replacement blades and micro screen. My Braun is back! It's cutting like a hot knife through butter. It literally takes half the time to shave with the new blades.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "If I had only 8 hours to cut down a tree, I'd spend the first 6 sharpening my axe." I think about all the things I have to do on a daily basis and ask myself, "What am I doing to sharpen my skills as a leader, pastor, church planter, husband, counselor, etc." Everyone wants to get more done in less time. The key is to in preparation.

Here are some of the things I'm doing to stay sharp:
  • Spend more time in God's Word / prayer
  • Read, read, read
  • Commit to a coaching relationship
  • Prioritize my schedule - get more done by doing less
  • Relax
What are you doing to invest in you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All Star Witness

Josh Hamilton put on a show at the home run derby the other night in Yankee Stadium hitting an all-time record 28 home runs in the first round. It was a spectacular demonstration of hitting. The best of any MLB All-star ever!

Josh plays major league baseball for the Texas Rangers. I first heard about Josh when I saw his picture on the front of June 2 Sports Illustrated edition and read the cover story by Albert Chen called "The Supernatural."

Josh was the overall first round draft pick for MLB in 1999. He was picked up by Tampa Bay and earned a 4 million dollar signing bonus. Before he ever played in his first major league game, injuries and drug addiction derailed his career. He lost everything because of some seriously bad decisions. Josh was out of the game for years before returning this season.

His comeback story is nothing short of miraculous. After surrendering his life to Jesus Christ, Josh witnessed God restore his faith and career. Josh now leads the major leagues in RBIs and more importantly, uses his position of influence to tell others how God restored his life. Like the other night when interviewed on national tv after the home run derby, Josh said before millions of people, that he thanked his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for saving his life.

To me, that's an all-start witness. It makes me want to take a stand in my life everyday to tell others about what Jesus has done in my life. Who will you tell today?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Beginnings Daycare

From the very beginning, PCC has looked for strategic ways to make the Poconos a better place to live and raise a family. We've purposed to impact our growing community with the tangible love of Christ.

With over 25,000 commuters from our community that travel to New York City and New Jersey everyday, quality daycare has become a huge need in our area.

I'm excited to announce that PCC will be opening a full service day care and before/after school program in January of 09 with the the opening of our new building.

New Beginnings Day Care will provide professional care and a Christian education for infants through pre-K and will be open from 6am until 6pm Monday through Friday.

For more information, check out the website by clicking here. Enrollment is now open! We are expecting the day care to fill up quickly so enroll today.

We are in the process of hiring teachers, as well. If you are interested in a teaching position, click here for more information.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Week At A Glance

This week is shaping up to be full of ministry activity. Here's a brief look at some of the events I am am looking at:

1. Monday

Staff Meeting/Prayer - the staff meets every Monday for prayer and logistical planning. With my Executive Pastor out of town this week, I'll be leading both meetings. I love our staff at PCC and enjoy our times of prayer and planning.

Monday is also a day for follow up. We had lots of first-time guests yesterday and I will be working on follow up contacts today. A number of people have recently given their heart to Christ and we are working to connect them to our Fresh Start class.

I'm also getting together with the Creative Team to plan out the worship elements for Sunday's service, as well as meeting with the Elder Team Monday night for our monthly gathering.

2. Tuesday

Fall Sermon Research - I'll be spending a good deal of my time Tuesday working on my message series for this Fall. I'm reading a book, "The Church of Irresistible Influence" in preparation for for a vision message series in October that I'm thinking about calling, "Simply Irresistible." I'm also working on a staff retreat talk in August.

3. Wednesday

Weekend Sermon Prep - I'm preaching this weekend on the Fruit of the Spirit - Peace. I'm loving the Juicy Fruit series we are in right now. Getting lots of great feedback.

4. Thursday

Wrap up the message notes and get them to the office for print with the rest of the weekend programs, etc. Also have lots of meetings and appointments throughout the day. Thursday is a good day to just meet with people and get lots of administrative work done.

5. Friday

This is my day off! I'll be spending time with my family and maybe get in a round of golf.

6. Saturday

I spend Saturday morning with my family and then spend a four to six hours going over my message for Sunday and just seeking the Lord in prayer in preparation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bill Hybels on Willow's Future

There's been a lot of discussion in the church world about Willow Creek and their latest research project Reveal. Reveal was the result of research among hundreds of churches across the nation as it relates to the spiritual condition of their members.

Many have suggested that the Reveal research has led Willow to give up on reaching the lost ("seekers") and refocus their efforts elsewhere.

Well, I've been a huge fan of Hybels for a long time and I knew nothing could be further from the truth. However, Reveal has led Willow to reexamine the best way to reach the lost in the 21st century. Listen to Hybels talk about it here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Just a reminder that our monthly prayer meeting, The Gathering, will be TONIGHT at Clear Run Elementary Center from 7:00 - 8:15. Clear Run school is located on Rt. 611 N just a mile or so north of our new church property.

Prayer is the fuel for the engine that drives the church. It's vitally important that we gather together and pray. No prayer equals no power. Lot's of prayer equals lots of power.
At tonights prayer meeting we will be spending some time in worship and praying for the church, the lost in our community, world events, and also celebrating communion together.

Please make every effort to be there tonight and pray with your church family. Children's programs are available.

Building Update

The construction crew began pouring the concrete foundation for our new building yesterday. What a great sight!

I've waited almost 6 years for this day and it was simply awesome. It will take about a week to pour all the footers and weather permitting the foundation will be finished just in time for the steel superstructure that arrives next week.

Thanks again to all you PCCers out there for your prayers and financial commitment to make this new church home a reality. Just imagine what God can do in our community and the people we can reach for Christ in our new church home. It's going to be amazing!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mystery Mower

The family and I just got back last night from vacation and I noticed that my grass had been mowed while I was away. I want to thank this "mystery mower" and tell you how grateful I am for this random act of kindness. Thanks so much for blessing your friend and pastor!

The Bible says anytime we have the opportunity to do good, we should take full advantage of it. Live life in the moment. Don't wait until tomorrow to be kind. Do it today.

What act of kindness can you do today? I know what I'm going to do.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hug Me, Brotha'!

A few years back, my family picked up a line from a popular kids’ show that goes, “Hug me, Brotha’!” Every time my now almost-men children use this to call out to one another, I crack up. Although they do love each other and have some good times, my boys (there they are again...hugging... in the picture) do have their “moments”. Moments that used to consist of crying over who got the biggest ice cream cone as preschoolers to who got to ride “shotgun” as tweens to “you’ve been in the shower 20 minutes…get out NOW!” as teens.

When they were small, I got a lot of unsolicited advice on how to deal with their relationship issues. Someone told me to have them memorize scripture if they fought. The first one I thought they would probably use was Mark 8:33, “Get behind me, Satan!” followed by II Corinthians 12:7, “…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me!”. Conversely, it was suggested that I should just “…let ‘em duke it out!”.

What’s the answer to the inevitable relational issues that come up between brothers, or any of us for that matter? I suggest some balance. Properly interpreted and applied scripture (preferably ones that don’t support the idea that the other party involved is Satan's right hand man) and putting into practice some honesty and problem solving skills are good things to implement. We’re a flawed people so we’re going to have issues with one another. Hopefully, we can let the Lord help us, speak the truth in love and at the end of the day be able to say, “Hug me, Brotha’!”

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Singing with Sting

When I was a teen, Sting (musician, front man for The Police), sang a song with the line, “…if you love someone, set them free”. Stupid song. I’ll bet Sting either didn’t have kids, or they were really young at the time. I’ll bet Sting either wasn’t - or won't be - belting that one out at any of his kids’ high school grad parties.

A few weeks ago, our oldest son graduated from high school (that's him and his brothers on the right). Though he will be attending a local university this fall and works next door to me at the church office, something about “us” has already changed. Though we’re a tight-knit family, I’ve sensed a bit of a pulling away. Probably not a bad one. Probably a right and normal one. One my husband (his dad) seems to be doing better with than me. It’s bitter-sweet. On the one hand, I’m proud that - at this point in his life - he seems to genuinely love the Lord. He’s headed out on a couple of missions’ trips later this summer and can’t wait. On the other hand, he’s also been headed out on a more local level lately, and I recently learned he has plans for July 4th…plans that don’t include Mommy. (Like that's gonna' be any fun...)

The kid is registered for Selective Service, for Pete’s sake! He is an adult. But, when did that happen? I remember when I thought he would never potty in the potty or say “refrigerator” instead of “free-rigerator”. To the best of my ability, I’ve trained him up and my time of daily, big influence has come and gone. I’m just so thankful that God’s has not.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


So, last night my 16 year old running machine of a son, Keith, and his cross country teammate, Alex, got together at our house to go for a 7 mile run. They log this distance or more almost every day during the summer to stay in shape for their school team’s competitive fall season. Consequently, they are both great athletes and have received awards, including lettermen’s jackets, from school for their efforts. Because the only thing Keith ever sees his mom run is the “couch to fridge sprint", I thought I’d take him down to the basement this morning to prove that the old lady used to be somewhat of a runner herself. We dug through boxes marked “garage” and found my unbelievably small and smelly old lettermen’s jacket (see picture). Medals had fallen off, some were broken, some were in a crummy, plastic case in the box next to where we had found the jacket.

We both had a good laugh, and the sight of the old “red and gold” got me thinking. Most of our earthly accomplishments will wind up just like my jacket. Though at one time seemingly amazing, they’re pretty much all headed for a place where “moth and rust destroy”. Even the cool programs and accomplishments that I have sometimes pulled off in ministry. Moth meat. While Matthew 6:19-21 reminds us that we need to be storing treasures in heaven, II Corinthians 4: 7 reminds us that we have “treasure” in our lives showing life-changing hope coming from God (His accomplishments) and not us ( our accomplishments). Let the lost see the treasure of Christ in your life, so that they might find eternal hope. After all, people are the only lasting treasures we will ever have.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bald Spots

Because he lives on the other side of the country and doesn’t know Pastor Dave, I’m hoping that Jeff, one of our family’s dearest friends, isn’t seeing this blog. So the photo of his balding head may be a little weird, but when I ran across it the other day it really made me think about something other than the fact that we’re all getting older. It was New Year’s Eve 2002 and we were staying with Jeff and his wife, (one of the most cherished people in my life) Mary Beth. Jeff and my husband, Kevin, had just shot off a lot of fireworks (an eye doctor and a pastor, kids!) and we had retreated back inside the house to play a round of “boys vs. girls” Cranium (Mary Beth – math questions, Kevin – history questions, Jeff – science questions, KyAnne – um…useless information!). Out of the blue, Jeff handed me a camera and said, “I think I’m really going bald up there but I can’t tell how bad it is. Take a picture so I can see.”

Today, I’m thinking of the bald…or blind…spots in my life. I have inklings (through the Holy Spirit) that I’ve got some, but I’m not always humble enough to ask the Lord to show me the evidence. Thanks for the lesson, Jeff.

Okay, God, take a picture so I can see.