Monday, November 24, 2008

From Homeless to Home

Here is a story sent to me by one of our members. It is one of those stories that you hope to hear but sometimes never do. I was moved by it this morning, I trust you are as well. This is why we do church. So the physically and spiritually homeless can find a home. Way to go Relevant!!! You Rock!!!

Hey Guys,
I just wanted to say thanks for making Rudy feel at home. He is our homeless, vet friend but we don't see him as 'homeless'. We see him as family. :)
We met Rudy 3 years ago in the Ybor park on 8th Ave. It happened to be Veteran's Day. I was still attending Bible College and a group of us kids from the school were doing street ministry in Ybor every weekend. Rudy stole our hearts the moment we met him. His has a huge heart, he has issues, and he is desperate for something more.
He made a promise that one day he would come to church...I never pressured him...his own words kept him bound...he finally did show, as soon as the second service ended. I was excited that he walked through the doors...As you preached that following week you said, 'Little progress is still progress...' . Rudy felt bad that he missed the service and promised that he would come again...hahaha. He did...this time he caught the service right after the worship. He hasn't stopped coming. He fell in love with the people , the band, and the preaching and won't miss them again. :)
When Rudy was young, he was an altar boy at a Catholic church and the priest would give him and his friends four shots of wine before mass....his mom couldn't figure out why he wanted to go to church so much!
Well, here he is many years later...and we are all amazed...we can't figure out why he wants to come to church so bad. :) He is being drawn to something more than wine. :) Jesus is totally changing his life...he is definitely not the same guy we met in the park. I filled out Rudy's visitor card. He didn't think the gift would apply to him...and then he got his starbuck's card....he was excited...he went and got a hot chocolate. :) You made his week once again.
This Sunday we printed his name's official...Rudy is now one of the bunch. This past Sunday, after the service was over he said, 'The preacher preached a damn good message'! ...Just thought you should know. :) (THAT IS MY FAVORITE LINE I DID NOT KNOW I WAS DAMN GOOD. WOW)
Have a great week and thanks for making a difference in Rudy's life...I know it's not by accident that he started coming to church during the 'Messy' series. It has been really impactful. You guys are amazing. On behalf of Rudy, thanks for everything.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"I Don't Want to"

Have you ever heard that before? have you ever said that before? I dare say all of us from time to time have wrestled with this notion "I don't want to" I know I have many times in my life. The strange thing is this attitude does not just happen to me it happens to my kids as well. I know many of you watched my update from Friday and commented on how awesome Ashlyn was in the video, and she was. But just two days before that she had an I don't want to moment before going to school.

It was Wednesday morning, Susie had to teach so I was left with kid duty. This mean s I have to make sure that they get ready, have the lunches made, and take Ashlyn to school on my way in to the office. (Did I mention that when this happens I cannot ride my bike in the morning? UGH)
Well on this faithful morning after Anthony and Susie had already left I proceeded to instruct Ashlyn that she needed to get dressed. Here response to me was less that desirable "I don't want to" is all that I received. To which I responded in kind. Well you better get dressed or you are going to be late for school and you are going to get in trouble. She did not care at this point, she had already made her decision, trouble or no trouble she was not going to get dressed when I wanted her to get dressed. After continual prompting she did get dressed and yes she did get in trouble at school for being late. So the next day she was dressed 30 minutes early and came into Susie and I's room and said I am ready for school. I am not getting in trouble today dad.

What I think is interesting is that this whole idea of "I don't want to" does not just effect 12 year old special needs kids who do not want to get dressed for school. It effects every single person on the face of the earth.
But what happens when you as a leader get to the place where you say "I don't want to"? Whatever the I do not want to is does not make a difference. But there comes a time and place where you put you foot down and say no do not want to do it no matter what happens. This has happened to me on different occasions and sometimes the outcome has been good and I needed to say I don't want to and sometimes the outcome has been bad because I said no to something I should have done. I think the key is recognizing the difference between the two.

Keys to Remember
  • you do not have to do everything that everyone says that you need to do
  • Saying "I don't want to" is not always bad
  • you better do what God is telling you to do
  • have a reason for your I don't want to
  • just because you don't want to does not mean it is a bad idea or a wrong idea
  • the key word in the phrase is "I" it is personal

Friday, November 14, 2008

relevant update 11.14.08

just an update for the weekend coming up at Relevant. See you all Sunday

Monday, November 10, 2008

Leadership leadership wherefore art thou leadership?

I know. I know my old theater days are getting the best of me today. But seriously, where are the real leaders of today. I know that I hear guys talk about their leadership and talk about their ideas but sometimes it all just seems like talk. In this rant I am including myself just for the record.
  • All too often we talk about our leadership more than we act upon our leadership.
So many times I hear people tell me that they are leaders and that they are ready to lead but they have not lead anything thus far. I know, I know you have to be given a chance to lead to prove yourself. But here was my experience. I felt like God had called me to be a Student Pastor and when I knew that, I wanted to do anything to get my foot in the door of that kind of ministry. So here is what I did. I went the student pastor at the church that I was attending and said I want you to teach me everything you know about student ministry and ever bit of time I have off i want to know if it would be ok if I came up here to help you do whatever you need. He said yes and over the next year and a half I did everything fill water balloons, to drive a bus to camp, to teach 7 grade boys Sunday School. But when he felt like God called him to leave guess who he suggested the church hire to fill his position. You guessed it me. Thanks Mike Vauters you shaped my ministry almost 20 years ago.

Fast forward 15 years later. I was working in student ministry at Baylife Church and I had a youth worker come up to me and tell me he wanted to work in student ministry. He said that he felt like he wanted to do it full time and what could he do in our ministry. I informed him that I did not have any paid position and he informed me that he would do it for a "PUNCH IN THE FACE" Steve Frissell you rock man!! That is leadership. BTW when I left to start Relevant who do you think I said should take my place at Baylife. You guessed it Steve.

Then at the launch of Relevant my BFF (James Adair) and his wife felt like they were called to go with us on this adventure. However, we did not have any money to pay him on staff so how could he work at the church and support his family. Well he informed me that he would do whatever it took for however long it took to support his family while he served as a full time staff member for no pay what so ever. He bought and sold houses for 2 years before he ever came on staff and then when he did he raised half of his salary for the first year.

I say all of that to say this: leadership in not found in a vacuum of service it is found in the middle of the heart of service. The person who comes to me with all of his or her degrees and accomplishments does not impress me as much as the person who comes in and say what can I do to see lives changed and what do you need me to do right now. There is an incredible book out by Mark Sanborn that really hits on this point of no matter what you do you can lead if you have "The Fred Factor". This idea is that service is at the heart of leadership. You have heard two of my examples of Fred's now how about you going out and being a Fred.

Leading like Fred seems to me like the example Christ modeled. His leadership was not from a stage but from the streets. The leadership of the men I spoke of was that of active leadership and by active I am not meaning an active tongue. These men lead by acting on their leadership. I am drawn to that kind of leadership because that is the leadership that I think our world is desperately looking for. That is my kind of leadership. That is the kind of leader I want to be.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

relevant update Nov 7

Here is my Friday update. Sorry I did not post it then. I forgot. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Salt and Light

Well happy Wednesday everyone. As I was out on my morning 20 mile bike ride this morning. (And for those of you who think I am lying about the 20 miles you can join me any day at my house at 7am for what I call the ride to glory) However, now that I am off of that hobby horse I was listening to a fellow pastor speak a sermon on the passage in Matthew 5 about salt and light and all I can say is that it rocked my world. Here are some thoughts that I had during my ride with God this morning.

  • the people that Jesus was addressing were living in the middle of financial, political, and religious unrest.
  • they were desiring something different and were hoping Jesus was going to provide it. I mean if he was the Messiah wasn't that kind of in his job description. You know come to earth, save the world, rescue the down cast, heal the sick, fix all of our problems.
  • They were shocked at his answers.
All of this unrest, and all of this oppression, and all of these problems, the people needed something different. Quite frankly our country has been in this state for years now. We have a financial system that has been based on fabrication, a political system that is limping along and quite frankly the worst thing of all is a religious system that is completely anemic. The third system is the one that I want to talk about because I think it is the one that Jesus addresses in him communication to the people in the book of Matthew. Here is his declaration.

  • You are the salt of the earth.
Notice that the very first word out of his mouth is not I am the salt of the earth but He put the ownership on them. He said "You are the salt". I think that this is interesting because salt back in those days was not used just to make things taste better. Salt in those days was made to keep things from rotting. It was a preservative. I think what we have done in our culture today is we have made the story of Jesus something that if people would just add a little dash of it their lives would be better. When the major problem is that our world is rotting away around us and people's lives are rotting away around them and they do not need a little dash of salt to make things taste better they need some radical, preservative, transformation that can only come from the salt of the earth and Jesus said you (the ones who call yourselves Followers of Jesus) are the preservative agents you and I are the ones who can offer that preservative that comes from Jesus and many of us simply satisfied with just giving out a dash.

Jesus goes on to say that when we loss our effectiveness in being the preservative agents in our culture then we are good for nothing and should be thrown out. The reason that the church has been so ineffective in the past decade or so is because it has lost its saltiness. And I believe that there is a new generation of leaders in our churches today that are saying "by what ever means necessary I am going to stand up and proclaim the name of Jesus, I am going to be a preservative no matter the cost" I am so glad I a part of this revolution.

  • "you are the light of the world"
The second point Jesus makes is that "you are the light of the world". I think that this is interesting because in our culture light is taken for granted so many times but in the culture that Jesus was talking to they understood the importance of light. Light was used to give direction on a journey. (God used this in the old testament with the children of Israel. Exodus 13) Light was used for protection. I don't know if the power has ever gone out in your neighborhood and there are no street light and no other house lights on for as far as you can see but in those time you feel the most vulnerable to invasion. Light was used to protect. Light was also used to provide. It provided heat for cold nights, provided fire for cooking meals. So here is what Jesus is saying here. He says you are complaining about what is going on around you, however, you have light that someone else needs and you are keeping it to yourself. You have something that can provide for someone else and yet you are hiding it or better yet hording it. He tells them that this is not way to live as a Follower of Him.

I am more excited than ever before about the opportunities that we have to share Jesus with people and be the true preservative agents and light for our culture. I believe that change is coming to our culture and I believe that it is going to start with the change that God wants to begin in us. Let's go change the world for Jesus sake.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just Say It Already

So I stated last week that Monday was going to be leadership day for my blog. Well let me just preface this first one by saying that Mondays for me are not my big mercy days. Not that I have a lot on any other days either but Mondays are: let's just say shoot straight days. So here goes on my first leadership bullets for this blog.

  • "Just say it already"
I have been in so many conversations with people over the years where there was so much said that had nothing to do with what needed to be said that it kills me. Quite frankly I have been the one initiating those types of conversations many times. When I think about why I choose to engage in conversation like that rather that get straight to the point I really had to unpack my reasoning behind it and this is what I came up with so here goes.

  1. We don't just say it because we are afraid of what may happen if we do. But I think sometimes the better question is what happens if we don't. What will we sacrifice in our ministry or leadership or life if we choose not to engage in those Fierce Conversation. (this web site is part of Susan Scott's material from her book with the same title. Great stuff)
  2. We don't just say it because we think it will work itself out. Quite frankly it does sometimes and maybe we have gained a small victory, but in the process lost some desire to communicate with the other person. When this happens distance is created in the relationship.
  3. We don't just say it because we avoid a fight that way. I can tell you that for me this is true. When people come to me with issues about me that I disagree with I typically get angry first and get rational second. I am not saying that this is good, it is just the way I am and because of that I think that people who know me best may not even "just say it" to me. (side note this is not an call to everyone who has ever wanted to tell me something to come out of the wood works. I did not say I had a handle on it yet) HA HA
Maybe we need to take a que from the master confronter Jesus about just saying it. I was studying last week for my message and I was using the passage in John 4 about the woman at the well and Jesus engages her in conversation and the communication does not go very long until Jesus "Just says it" He lays out in front of her just who she is and what her life is like and in that moment she has to respond. There is no small talk, Jesus gets straight to the point because He know that if the woman deals with that issue many of the other things will fall in line.

Maybe this week you need to have some of those "Just Say It Already" conversations and see what happens. hey at least you will not have to spend 3 hours talking about nothing and get nothing resolved. Just know that in these types of conversations there is someone else involved and they may not respond the way that you want them to immediately. Give them time to process everything and consider coming back for a follow-up conversation.

Talk to you all Wednesday