Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekend Highlights

This weekend was a lot of fun at PCC. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Despite a few inches of snow on Saturday we still had great services with 550 in attendance. Truly, I was blown away by how many people braved the weather to come out and worship. Pocono is made up good 'ol mountain people : )
  • The new stage extension worked out really well. I loved preaching out in the crowd and felt more connected to the audience. A big thanks to Aaron Davis our facilities director and the volunteers who built the stage this weekend.
  • We wrapped up our January series, Games People Play, this weekend with a message on forgiveness. In the 11am service I literally heard people weeping as God healed their hearts and they relinquished their right to get even.
  • The Games People Play was a study on the life of King David. This weekend we learned that David has a forgiving spirit.
  • The alternative to forgiveness is bitterness. Bitterness doesn't work. Read Hebrews 12:15. Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
  • King David teaches us that a man forgiven of much, forgives much.
  • The humbled forgiven make good forgivers. It's the man full of pride that has difficulty forgiving others.
  • Forgiveness isn't fair. It's called grace. It's what God has given us when we didn't deserve. I'm so glad God didn't give me what I deserve - death. For the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life.
  • Pastor Brad, Andre and Emilio all did the announcements together this weekend. It was hilarious. Brad is this corn-fed white boy from the midwest. Andre is from inner city Pittsburgh. And Emilio is from Guatemala and spoke in Spanish. Perhaps my most memorable moment of the year so far.
  • I heard of a girl that game to PCC the for the first time on Saturday night. She was impacted so much by the service that she came back today. She said she just sat there and wept as God moved in her heart. She went through a truckload of hurt in her life and God set her free this weekend. Yeah God!
  • Pastor Ron led worship again this weekend because Nadeen was out sick with strep throat. We are praying for her complete recovery. Great worship Ron and team!
  • Looking forward to our First Tuesday Prayer Meeting this week followed by our annual business meeting. That is, of course, we don't slammed with 2 feet of snow!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Breaking Growth Barriers - Part 1

Here are 10 Ideas for Breaking Growth Barriers in your church:

1. Make a decision to grow personally.
  • growing churches are led by growing leaders
  • in order for my church to grow, I must first grow
  • i've discovered that i'm the biggest growth barrier to my church
  • when i stop growing, my church stops growing
  • so i must constantly ask: what am i doing to grow?
  • what's my personal growth plan for 2011? for my walk with the lord? my family? my finances? my leadership? my ministry?
2. Get a vision for growth from God.
  • i go on two personal prayer retreats a year so i can get alone with god, hear his voice and get a vision for what he wants to do in and through me in the days ahead
  • many years ago while on a getaway, god spoke to my heart through his word that he wanted my church to grow
  • i'm not saying god wants all churches to be mega churches, but god wants all churches to grow. read 2 peter 3:9, luke 14:23, mt. 28, acts 2, col. 3
  • pastors need to hear from god and write the vision down
  • set some growth goals / develop a strategy of how you will accomplish those goals
  • a coach challenged me years ago to sit down and make a list of 100 reasons why my church should grow. this challenged me and help me develop a vision for growth.
3. Be willing to embrace the pain of growth.
  • all growth requires change
  • all change brings pain
  • when you get a vision from god for growth and begin to implement it, the critics will show up
  • develop thick skin as a leader. like really thick skin. rhinoceros thick. and don't be offended when people criticize your plan or mischaracterize your ministry.
  • leadership requires thick skin and and tender heart.
  • as your church grows, it will require your role to change as a pastor. this is very difficult. you won't be able to do it all by yourself anymore. you won't do all the weddings, funerals, hospital visit, counseling sessions, ad nauseum.
  • acts 6 teaches church leaders that it's not our responsibility to meet all the needs of the church family. it's our responsibility to ensure that all the needs are met. big difference.
  • your pain threshold will determine your growth threshold.
  • if your church grows into the hundreds, even thousands, you won't even know all the people that attend your church. this was very painful for me personally and it still is today.
  • but then i decided everyone can know me, or everyone can know jesus. i'd rather them know jesus.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Kate!

I wanted to give a big shout out to my daughter, Kathryn, who turns 8 years old today. Happy Birthday to the most precious little girl a dad could ever hope for.

Here are just a few things I love about Kate:
+She's a great big sis' to her 3 lil' brothers.
+She has a zest for knowledge and loves to read.
+She's a very helpful little girl who is quick to jump up and help around the house.
+She loves to take care of her puppy, Holly. She feeds her and plays with her and let's her out/in to the house.
+Kate has a crazy sense of humor. She's the the life of the party. What a zany kid - always good for a laugh.
+She really values her friendships and wants to spend lots of time with her friends.
+She loves going to church and learning about Jesus.
+Kate is a very positive little person. To her, the glass is always half full.
+She really loves her mom and wants to be just like her.
+Kate has a tender heart for serving the poor and always includes them in her prayers. She is very thankful for what she has and looks for ways to give back to those in need.

I love you, Kate. Happy 8th Birthday!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Response To The Tucson Tragedy

The tragedy that occurred in Tuscon, Arizona on January 8th has captured the attention of America. In the vicious 24-hour news cycle of today's fast-paced world, the fact that this story of senseless violence is still being discussed twelve days later is evident of that fact.

Our church has been praying for all those personally impacted by this tragedy and will continue to do so in the days ahead. As a pastor, I thought I would share my perspective on the Tucson Tragedy in hopes of playing some small part in the healing process.

The Tucson Tragedy reminds me that:

1. Evil is Real - While there has been much discussion centered on the mental state of the shooter, make no mistake about it - this act of horrific violence stems from raw evil. I'm not suggesting that all who struggle with psychological problems are demonized, but this heinous act is definitive proof that evil is real.

Some say, "If God were a God of love, why would he allow things like this to happen." God is not the author of evil. He gives people a free will and when people succumb to the evil that lurks within, they hurt others and the consequence is often unconsolable pain. That's why Jesus said when you pray - pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus is reminding us that God's will is not always done on earth. That's why we need to pray for His will to be done. Remember that this is earth - not heaven. We live in a world that is broken and full of people that are prone to hurt others.

2. Life is Fragile - Events such as these remind us how fragile life really is. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I think especially of the 9 year old girl who's life was cut short at such an early age. Tragic loss. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families who morn the loss of a loved one today.

The Bible says that life is like a mist, a vapor - here one moment and gone the next. This reality compels me to soak in the moments of everyday with those that I love. To never leave the house without kissing my wife and children and tell them that I love them. To cherish each and every moment as if it could be my last. Life is short.

3. Good will triumph over Evil - It's been incredibly heartwarming to see the city of Tucson, along with the state of Arizona and the national community come together to pray, to encourage one another and to take a stand for what is good and right in this world.

So far as there is a remnant of God-fearing people on the planet, good will ultimately triumph over evil. Evil will run its course and lose. Good will overcome. People of compassion will defeat evil at every turn and find a way to bring hope and light in very dark times. As the Psalmist says, "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Bible Reading Plan

This January hundreds of those in the PCC church family committed to read through the New Testament in 30 days. This is kind of like P90X for your heart. Saturating your soul with copious amounts of the Scripture will pay rich dividends.

Here are some of the reasons why I read the Bible everyday:

1. It gives me truth. The Word of God contains the truth of God. On the other hand, the world is full of lies. The world lies to me everyday about what will make me happy, what will bring me significance and so on. But the Word of God reminds me of what is true and real and it refocuses my mind and gives me clarity in a foggy, murky world.

2. It keeps me from sin. Sin is more an attitude than an action. It's an attitude that says I can do whatever I want without having to give an account for my actions. But God's Word teaches me that God is the ultimate authority in my life. So I read his Word and it put in my heart and it keeps my attitude in check prevents me from falling into sin.

3. It encourages me to dream big. When you read God's Word you understand that he specializes in doing great things through people who are pretty much screwed up. He works through those who have problems with: lying, sex, anger, impatience, and much more. So, when I read these stories of the kind of person God uses it encourages me to believe that God can use me - a big screw up too - to do great things.

4. It makes me want to be more like Jesus. I make it a practice to not so much read the Bible, but to let it read me. It challenges me. Corrects me. Trains me. Chisels me. And changes me into the image and likeness of Jesus. After all, Jesus is the Word. The Word is Jesus. If I have more of the Word in me than it stands to reason that I will become more like Jesus.

5. It comforts me in difficult days. We all go through some rough seasons in life. Days when we don't want to even get out of bed and face the world. It's during those dark and difficult days that I find great comfort from the deep reservoir of God's World. I guarantee that if you have a favorite Bible passage, it was written in a time when someone was going through a deep valley in life, not a mountain top experience. And if God brought them through it I know He will bring me through it too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Series: Games People Play

We kicked off a brand new teaching series last week called, "Games People Play." It's really a biographical study on the life of King David.

Acts 13:36 tells us that David "served God's purposes in his generation, and then he died." In other words, David lived a successful life. Amidst great failures and personal shortcomings, David still is remember as "a man after God's own heart."

The message zeroed in on a conversation David had with his son, Solomon, just before David died. He gave his soon-to-be-king son some great advice on how to have a heart for God.

Hopefully this message will give you encouragement and a plan for success in 2011 by knowing:
1) What I need to get rid of,
2) What I need to hold on to; and
3) What I need to evaluate.

To listen to the full message, go HERE. (Message title: How to live life with purpose)