Building Boundaries



There is no way, I think, for us to get an accurate idea of the problem internet pornography causes for families and pastors. Through the years this has become a tragic problem.

It really hit home for me this last year when a fellow church planter and friend turned in their credentials. Can exceptions be made? No, I think not even though compassion can be expressed. What needs to be put forth however is the importance of establishing walls and boundaries.

There are a number of services available but I'd like to recommend my friends and allies at WiseChoice.net. Is it worth it to pay up $5 a month? For the sake of my family and my integrity, absolutely. We've used WiseChoice for almost 6 years and they have been awesome.

What really is at issue is integrity. Anyone of us can be corrupted by lust, greed, pride, arrogance, idolatry, alcohol, and on and on... Will we become obsessed with debating the 'spirit' and 'letter' of a command or will we live authentically what we believe?

For me, I've tried to learn from mistakes. That is where my idea came for a personal board of directors. It was an idea a few years ago but I never got going until this past fall. I gathered together 3 guys who have been part of encouraging me and challenging me in my faith through the years, to form my personal board. Each week (more or less) I send them updates and prayer requests. Then each one takes a month to be the contact to check on me and how I'm living out my faith in the most important areas of my life.

Every wedding I perform reminds of the promises I made at my wedding. It has come too from my own understanding of the Bible and a call to holiness for God's people.
As one writer puts it,
Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world. (James 1:27 GW)


Authentic faith isn't reactionary but proactive - authentability

May I ask: How is your wall building going? What boundaries have you put in place?

Send me an e-mail and let me know what you've found helpful and I'll post it here!

Life Assurance

One version of the story goes that when I was about 4 years old on a summer afternoon in Mississippi, I got an idea. All my mom and sister heard was my crying in the backyard. They ran to scene of my accident to find me sitting beside our slide with tears streaming down my face. Remember, I was sitting beside the slide, not at the end. When they asked what had happened, I responded, “I tried to fly but my superpowers didn’t work!” Somewhere along the way I had an idea that I could fly. I thought, “where was the tallest place to test my theory? Aha! I could jump off the slide in our backyard.”

Every superhero has some story about discovering their superpowers. Me, I discovered mine certainly was not flying!


Superman as a young kid could lift a car.






Peter Parker realizes something is very different the day after being bitten by a radioactive spider.






Luke Skywalker realizes it too when he trusts the force to blow up the Death Star. (Ok, Luke wasn’t a superhero but I’ve got to throw that one in.)



At some point, every hero becomes convinced in their abilities. They gain a confidence in themselves enough so they feel equipped and ready to take on the most powerful of foes. Heroes have little or no use for life insurance but life assurance? Life assurance is priceless.

But what of us? Super powers aside, as the “good citizens” of the world, what would it mean to you to have life assurance? What would it mean for you to live with the freedom from doubt? Do you own what you know? Do you ever wonder about the authenticity of your faith?

Almost hidden in the Bible and honestly ignored by many, are verses which tell of a promise of God, a promise of life assurance to followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. John Wesley, who led the Methodist revival, saw assurance as a great truth which, “..has been recovered, which had been lost for many years…” (“The Witness of the Spirit,” II, i.4, 1:285).

Just as Thomas Paine wrote during the American Revolution, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” many souls today remain in trials and struggles. Yet this is not what God intended. Yes, there was a time when the message of assurance was lost, but the hope of an assurance of adoption, an assurance of salvation, life assurance is a gift to all who believe.

John Wesley would say the verses should be read plain and simply for what they say: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16 NASB)”

Let me start by clarifying what it is not: Not a feeling; though our experience should confirm the Bible message. It is not about having a guaranteed connection to heaven. And it has nothing to do with receiving special messages from God.

But what is it? In part, it is mystery but as it is found in our Scripture and is spoken of in the lives of others and as we have taught it through centuries, there is testimony to say it is a promise to the children of God. The testimony may come in many ways but is the fact that a believer knows he or she has been adopted as a child of God.

But then, that’s a lot of talk, theory and theology. A hero has to test their powers to have assurance. For the “good citizens” like us, we have to follow.

This assurance comes at the moment we say yes to Jesus Christ yet it is also a result of our faith being lived out as a follower. As John writes in his first letter, Those who obey Christ's commandments live in God, and God lives in them. We know that he lives in us because he has given us the Spirit. 1 John 3:24 That means you and I are being led to involve ourselves in the doing of the commanding : communion, baptism, praying, serving, worshipping, reading, fasting, and loving. The keeping of Jesus’ commandments isn’t about BINDING us but FREEING us to LIVING.

The doing doesn’t earn your faith or salvation or assurance.,

It makes it reliable,
It makes it tangible,
It makes it tasteable,
It makes it trustable and
It makes it believable.

The power of assurance was made tangible and trustable when,
“Jesus…saw a very poor widow dropping in two little copper coins. For the others offered their gifts from what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, gave all she had to live on." (Luke 21:1-4 GNB)

The power of assurance was made reliable and tasteable when,
Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them, "Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here; he has been raised. (Luke 24:5-6 GNB)

The power of assurance was made tangible and trustable when,
[the disciples] were all filled with the Holy Spirit and… Peter said to [the crowd], "Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit. Many of them believed his message and were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to the group that day. (Acts 2:4,38,41 GNB)


The power of assurance was made reliable and tasteable when facing cancer and depression, there was an evidence joy, peace, hope growing in my life.
For me today, the assurance of my salvation and my adoption as God’s child led me to climb another ladder and step-off, as a pastor and church planter.

Assurance is a gift but at some point, every follower has to become convinced of God’s love for them and their adoptability – and with the gift comes the power (and with power comes responsibility) and promise of assurance. Then there comes the time when you climb the ladder and live out the assurance. The gift has been given – its time to step out with life assurance. You’re in good hands.

Learning and Connecting @ Steak and Shake


Acworth has a great place to eat called Steak and Shake, maybe you've heard of it. I've been eating at Steak and Shake since I was in St. Louis. Double Steakburger, double order of cheesefries and a chocolate shake makes this dude happy.

My folks were here this weekend to help build our kids a clubhouse (more on that to come) and took us out to eat. Remember, I already like to eat here...

It started in the Parking Lot
Right after we got out of the van we heard, "Happy Memorial Day!" We looked up to see our waitress welcoming us in. "I'm going to have your table ready right away!" That is a greeting!

Nametag
We exchanged names (of course I had my nametag) and then got to business taking orders. Always get the name or your server - if you want good service - get personal.

Having Fun
Things appeared a bit slow but it was made up for by our servers attitude. She talked to the kids and was dancing around to the music. She was always smiling and quick with fill-ups. This made the time go by much faster.

Corrections
Even when things got mixed up in our orders, she didn't make excuses or blame us, she fixed it (I saw her do the same at another table).

Lady-like
She noticed my wife wasn't eating her salad before my wife asked for a napkin. She said, "The lady needs her napkin. I know ladies can't eat without their napkin in place." I'm a guy so all I can say is "wow."

Personal Touch
She talked with our kids and joked with our family, never too much, and always trying to serve.

Names
I couldn't help but drop her name to the manager after she called me by name to say "goodbye." Did we pick-up a comment card? You bet and put it in the mail first thing this morning.

Will I be back at Steak and Shake? You bet and I know who I'll request as server!

Can the same thing be said for how I treat people in our church? How about everyday on the street and in the neighborhood?

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2, NIV)

May I ask: How are you at connecting through serving?

Positing on Postmodernity

I ran across a recent piece by Shaun Turner entitled, “How (Not) to Speak of God as a Postmodern Evangelical”. Having been enamored early on with the "postmodern-emergent" discussion, I find myself beginning to read more widely and considering more thoughtfully the implications.

I hope my brevity does not disuade anyone from considering reading farther in this area. But in my context and life, I've come to sense and understand not all I that I do as a pastor is intended to be put on the people I am reaching, leading and caring for. What concerns me is that churches are becoming a laboratory for the theological experiments of some. Just because I have some thoughts and convictions, does it mean they are necessarily ready for consumption?

Scott Ginsberg wrote this week in “Orthopraxy not orthodoxy”,
A few months ago, author, pastor (and my homeboy) Jim Henderson educated me on the difference between orthoDOXY and orthoPRAXY:

The word orthodoxy comes from the Greek ortho ('correct') and doxa ('thought').

The correct thoughts.

The word orthopraxy comes from the Greek ortho ('correct') and proxis ('action').

The correct actions.

That to me is where the heart of the issue is. Are we really going on to Christian Perfection (I know that will bother some but you'll have to deal with my Wesleyan heritage)? Are we finding nexus with God on the issue of the greatest commandments to "Love God and Love Neighbor?" What we do in our cerebral journeys is one thing but how we guide the people we are called to reach and shepherd is another.

I'm not done with this by a long shot but I've got some doing that needs to get done.

May faith be with you!
May I ask: How is your "orthodoxy" becoming "orthopraxy"?

Leaving a Legacy


This past week I had the true privilege of speaking with our Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers at Due West on legacy. I've thought about and talked about legacy through the years. I've worried about legacy and come to grips to the possiblities and regrets.


At this point in my life, I've come to the following realizations:

AUTHENTICITY
I have found that the more authentic your life and faith are the more misunderstood you could become or the more inspirational. Let them say what they want, the majority of people are looking for authenticity, they are longing for it. If you're authentic, you'll be a draw.

LAW OF LEGACY
Newton's Third Law of Motion goes something like this: "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." I call it the Law of Legacy. Legacies are the reactions to your actions. Whatever we do, whatever we say, however we act, in all we do, we leave behind a legacy. But for all you do, it is still...

OUT OF CONTROL
Your legacy is out of your control. There are people who, no matter what you do the rest of your life, will never forgive you for putting gum in their hair in second grade. There are people who will hate you for whatever bumper sticker is on your car.

LEAVE IT BEHIND
I had to leave one position as a youth pastor earlier than I wanted too. The issues around my leaving consisted of convictions, integrity, and authenticity. I had so many things still to do and I left a lot undone. My dad said to me, "Son, if you were doing your job then you're going to leave somethings undone." Thanks, Pop for the legacy you've been leaving.

TRUE PERSPECTIVE
Jesus points out, rather clearly, I might add, what is most important in your legacy is to be true to your faith and your relationship with God.

"Jesus continued, "Now to what can I compare the people of this day? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace. One group shouts to the other, 'We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn't dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn't cry!' John the Baptist came, and he fasted and drank no wine, and you said, 'He has a demon in him!' The Son of Man came, and he ate and drank, and you said, 'Look at this man! He is a glutton and wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts!' 35) God's wisdom, however, is shown to be true by all who accept it." (Luke 7:31-35 GNB)

Jesus was in a no-win situation then and the situation still hasn’t changed much. Jesus lived wisely however: honest, consistent and authentic. His legacy surrounds us.

MAY I ASK: How are you building a legacy?

Plop in a Spot


One of the lessons I've learned as a church planter is that you've got to get connected to your community in a genuine way. Find a place you feel like is a good fit and get started volunteering.

My son was ready to start Cub Scouts last fall. As a former Scout it seemed like a great fit. During our popcorn selling I took business cards (just in case) but my goal was first and foremost to be with my son and second was to meet my neighbors. A number of doors have opened from that simple choice to plop in a spot in the community that seemed natural.

It maybe Rotary or Kiwanis. It could be coaching a sport. Regardless, at some point, and the sooner the better, get connected - find a nexus to your community. And that is a message which applies to more than just pastors.

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house." (Matthew 5:13-15 ESV)


May I ask: Where have you found a spot?

NUTS! Relay for Life

It is a bit ironic that my son got in trouble at school for saying 'nuts' and his dad at one time had a website entitled CHECK UR NUTS. And then tonight is our Relay for Life in Paulding County, and we're going to celebrate my seventh year cancer free from...TESTICULAR CANCER!!!! Yep, I gave a nut for Relay for Life ;)

Seriously, guys and anyone who has a guy in their life they love dearly, please tell them to do testicular self-exams. It is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. There is almost no reason for a man to die from this. For more information visit
The Testicular Cancer Resource Center.

Remember: Check UR Nuts for life!

May I ask: How are you taking action to fight cancer?

If Shift Happens, does anyone care?



For starters, the title hits you from every angle possible. Visually it engages. And thankfully, in contrast to alot of other slides, the content drove the presentation.

BUT what does it really mean? What am I, as a viewer, being challenged to do? And do we at some point need to examine and question the validity of the presentation's content?

Don the Idea Guy in MyBrainBlog, writes:
Albert Einstein said "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." I'm not so sure it does. Too many raw theories are put forth (and accepted) as fact. General observations are accepted at face value, and instead of discovering our own individual and unique truths, we accept those that are handed to us without question (without question-ing.)

Statistics can be misleading as can many posts and blogs. Rumors can still cause uproars in the midst of new media. Wikipedia, while an incredible source of information, still needs to be verified by other sources.

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear" - Jesus in Matthew 11:15, ESV. In his notes on this verse, John Wesley wrote that it was,
"A kind of proverbial expression; requiring the deepest attention to what is spoken."
We would all do well to begin paying the "deepest attention" to what we read, see, and hear. Shift happens but that doesn't mean we have to step in it.

May I ask? Who or what is getting your attention? What questions are raised in you?

Do you have authentability?


I've been mulling over thoughts on faith in recent weeks. Sarah Ban Breathnach writes “An authentic life is the most personal form of worship." It sounds good but it seems to lack substance.

It sounds an awful lot like a weak reflection of what James wrote when he said, "Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world." (James 1:27 GW)

Of course this isn't far from being a paraphrase of what Jesus said was how we should live. That we should, "...Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.' And 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'" (Luke 10:27 GW)

All that considered, does it reflect your life? You can be authentic without doing anything that is pleasing to God. I can be the most authentic liar and own up to being a liar but it doesn't in the least bit mean I'm doing anything resembling worship.

If you have time you really should read Ben Witherington's post on Jerry Falwell. There was somethings Dr. Falwell said and did I had a hard time agreeing with and other things which were hard to argue with at all. But from all I could see, the man was authentic. What you saw was who he was.

Ultimately,

Living consisistently leads to authentablility.

When you intentionally are living fully what you believe all the time and every place, you can't help but develop the ability to be authentic by nature, your own authentability.

May I ask? How are you growing your authentablility?

It takes work to make a thing go right!

Tom, my senior pastor, and I were talking about the ministry of preaching. We both agreed it takes a lot of work to be able to get up and preach on Sunday morning in a way that makes people think it doesn't take a lot of work. It takes work to make a thing go right.

Activeness propels Excellence

There are a lot of folks wasting time and some might consider what I'm doing now flushing minutes down the toilet. Fine. But the real focus shouldn't be on what I'm doing but on what you're not doing because I am doing something...and why aren't you doing anything?

Writing and reading and researching are not busy work but an exercise in using intelligence. It is not busy work but needed work for anyone to rise above mediocrity. So if you'll excuse me, I've got work to do.

Oh, and may I ask: How are you being active today?

Naked as the day you were born

Yep, its Mother's Day and wouldn't your mom be proud of you if you were quoted in an article"Nudists seeking to Attract Younger Members?" Authenticity is great and so is being vulnerable but I'm just not sure of what they're getting at here.

The problem with this group isn't in authenticity but in perception. To my fellow americans in the American Association for Nude Recreation, this article didn't help your cause. Let's see: of the 50,000+ plus members of the association cited, 90% are older than 35. The phrase "dirty old men" comes to my mind.

Each one of us came into this world naked as can be. Everyone is real quick however to cover you up. There is a lot we cover up from then on. A lot of bumps and bruises, pain and hurt will do that to ya. While nudity, I suppose, might be helpful, being real and authentic goes beyond the skin. It is physical but also mental, emotional, and spiritual.

On this Mother's Day, we would do well to reflect on how much our mothers (and all other relations) have spent investing in the whole person. As parents this might also be a call to remember, "beauty is only skin deep" and we need to encourage and build up all aspects of our children's being and not just what seems to be important.

As I think about it, maybe its already happening and that is why the AANR is in decline.

THINK ABOUT IT: How are you building up the others around you?

Authenticity

I think they call that a sparkle word in school these days. Fact of the matter, in our day, when something is authentic, it really does sparkle. Maybe it is because not alot of things sparkle much or not enough of our life is authentic either.

Logan, my son, has always had a fascination with cars. It took awhile to help him understand that a GMC truck can be the same as a Chevrolet Truck. Mercedes is connected to Chrysler and Mitsubishi fits in there somehow. He probably knows more now about what companies make what than I do. It is not really authentic to say anymore what is an American-made car and what is a foreign import consider how many Toyotas are made in the US these days.

When the light of authenticity is turned on faith - what is found? How authentic is the faith of the US when the majority still claim Christianity and yet less than 11% are found in a church on a Sunday morning? When you hear the Beastie Boys claim to be Buddhist, there seems a considerable lack of interest in what they believe and what they sing. Some are concerned over Mitt Romney's Mormon faith yet from all accounts, he appears to be very authentic when it comes to his faith.

How do we become more authentic? What does being authentic even look like? For that matter, what would an authentic relationship with God resemble? Maybe even more important, how do we pass authenticity to the next generation?

Faith is more than beliefs.
I believe the chair I'm sitting in will hold me up but it wasn't faith until I acted on it and sat down and don't fall. What people believe is shown in their actions. As a parent, we can espouse all sorts of beliefs but our kids are watching what we do (and so is everyone else).

Honesty begats Authenticity.
The King James english has some great words and begat is one of them (see the first chapter of Matthew). Honesty gives birth to authenticity. As a pastor, I am expected to be honest (yes, clergy are still expected to be honest) www.huffingtonpost.com How authentic am I? I hope better than 54% but you better ask my children and my wife. Better yet, ask the people who have disagreed with me in churches I've served.

You Are What You Speak.
I am not the master of snappy comebacks and sometimes I've been known to let slip an colorful word or two. But no matter how much video and media assaults our senses, words remain what we have to communicate. I've been reading the Gospel of Luke over and over since the beginning of December. One of the things that amazes me (see Luke 14 especially) is how quick Jesus was on comebacks and stories related to the Kingdom of God. For Jesus, the Kingdom of God was his passion, that was his passion. It is no wonder he had an answer for everyone - it came from his heart.

How will you be authentic today?

What to do when you don't know what to do

I've got a brunch with my friend Chris who is another church planter nearby @ cityonahill . I had sometime and was working on my squidoo page and decided to grab another cup of coffee up at our new Starbucks. I got my name tag on and headed out the door.

I didn't have much time but thought I'd log on and do some more work on my squidoo page. I got the signal for a log in but…no link. I tried another browser…no luck…Arrgghhhh!!! So I'm thinking what to do and here are some of my thoughts:
1. Be friendly. This fellow just sneezed and I said to him, "God bless you." He looked up, smiled and said thanks (glad my name tag is on).

2. E-books. When you find articles online, e-books or pdf save them to a file on your desktop for going back to read.

3. Blog. You don't have to be online to do that you know.

4. Journal. So you don't have your computer, keep pad and paper with you.

5. Ask for help. If I'd planned to be here longer, I would have done this one but right now I'm about to shut down so I don't miss my meeting.

BTW, if you've got ideas to help me on why I couldn't get a connection, let me know. I need another wrinkle in my brain.

Are Marketing and Dating the same thing?

If you haven't checked out hellomynameisscott, then take a listen to the following podcast.


Subscribe Free
Add to my Page

And just so you know, I took to wearing a name tag (not 24/7 but close) back on Friday so I'm on day 4.

Thoughts on children in church


I've had a hard time getting my mind off of kids in our society and in our churches. On the one hand in our society we have have almost created an idolatry with our children and their activities. They've got to be in every sport, every ASP, scouts, club, and somewhere there is supposed to be quality time, sleep and homework.

Then we go to church and...we put the kids in their worship, youth in their's and adults in their's. Somehow these words come to my mind...
Some people brought little children to Jesus to have him hold them. But the disciples told the people not to do that. When Jesus saw this, he became irritated. He told them, "Don't stop the children from coming to me. Children like these are part of the kingdom of God. I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it." Mark 10:13-15 GW

Let's be honest, how in the heck, can we imagine for one minute we are going to get to the point of becoming like Jesus if we don't follow the simple examples he set for us.
Today we got a new staff member at Due West. Her little boy was there and she needed to learn some of her new responsibilities. I had stuff I wanted to do but there he was and there I was and so I thought, "what the hey!" So we played with a truck and little toys. I wiped his nose and watched him have fun just being a kid. The little guy brought me back to some key points I needed to be reminded of:

1. Childlike is not the same as childish. We need to be spontaneous, to laugh, to cry, to play, and skin up our knees. We don't need to whinny, needy, and clingy - those are three dwarfs the seven kicked out of the house long ago.

2. It is not about you. Sure, it is. Really? There is an abundance of Biblical knowledge in people's heads whose butts are sitting in pews. I like the way Ron Sylvia put it, "You want deep? I'm still working on that love your neighbor thing!"

3. It is about God. It may just be me but the cross, the Bible, the music, the sermon, the prayers, those are there to connect us to God. When it comes to the standard Christian faith, yeah, it is about God.

4. It doesn't take a village - it takes a family. Train a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not turn away from it. Proverbs 22:6 GW In the UMC, at baptism we commit to raising a child up, to helping and modeling our faith. Our children need to see all ages worshipping together. And maybe if we learned to watch our children, we'd learn it is really not about getting anything anyway, it was, is, and remains about giving.

It is still about the mission


I've spent a little bit of time blogging on myspace and have been feeling the need to branch out a bit as I see things unfolding around my life. It wasn't long ago I turned another page as I was approved for full-connection ordination by the North Georgia Conference.

So last night our District Superintendent calls a gathering of churches with 300+ in worship to challenge us on one simple point: we're not fulfilling our mission. Understand, NGA LEADS the UMC in the US in professions of faith AND the Atlanta-Marietta District leads the conference. We're still not fulfilling our mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ."

So now, I'm sitting on the edge of the abyss preparing to launch a new church in 2008. Of course, new churches have been determined to be "the most effective way of making new disciples." But the thought crosses my mind as Dr. Lathem talks... ",what if church planting becomes like the 'Conference Evangelist' or 'Evangelism Committees?' Will the Church defer to new churches to do the work?"

No matter how things play out, it is still about the mission

  © Blogger template Webnolia by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP