Grace Group Leader Video for Fall 2014

Church should not be experienced in a row; but in a circle.  If you are merely focused at the back of someone’s head trying to pay attention to a sermon, true spiritual transformation will seldom happen.  However, when you move from a row (sitting in church) to a circle (joining a small group – or a Grace Group – as we call them at Grace Church), the likelihood for life-change increases dramatically.

Here’s a message that I have to all of our current Grace Group Leaders (and potential leaders) for the upcoming fall season of ministry…

 

Here’s a brief outline of the key dates and information that was discussed:

  • In the past, we have had Grace Group launches based around a curriculum or corresponding sermon series. There will still be the option for groups to utilize these resources, but our campaigns will no longer be driven by a certain curriculum; rather, the over-all goal will be to get people connected!
  • Visit the Grace Group Resource Page HERE to get the latest resources for your group.
  • Grace Group Semester Cycle
    • Fall 2014             Sept 8 – Nov 24
    • Spring 2015        Feb 2 – April 27
    • Summer 2015    June 1 – Aug 30
    • Fall 2015             Sept 14 – Nov 23
  • Group Gathering- August 27, 7-9pm.We want and need all Grace Group Leaders to join us!
    • New Grace Group Leader Training will happen from 6-7pm (before the Grace Group Gathering)
  • Group Link – September 6/7 after each of the five weekend services (more details to follow)

The Power of Journaling

There is power in the written word.  Especially if YOU are the one who wrote it.  Journaling has a way to open up the windows of your past and doors to your future.  In this video I outline the 3 main benefits of journaling…

Outline of the interview:

1. Journaling brings clarity

I usually write both in the morning and in the evening. In the morning I write out what the day brings, and then in the evening, I write how the day went. But what I’ve found is that when I’m stressed about something that seems to be big and insolvable, when I take the time to write out the problem, I’m able to gain perspective and see it in a new light.

What’ve I’ve recently done that might seem strange for the average journaler, is that I’ve been taking my written journal entries from my paper journals, and putting them into a journal software program called DAYONE. I have it on my computer, IPad and IPhone. But what it has done, it has allowed me to see reoccurring themes in my life. And now, when I’m praying about something or frustrated with a situation, I can usually track it back to a similar time in my life and I see how I responded in THAT situation. Then it gives me clarity for the present situation.

2. Journaling brings gratitude

If you are new to journaling, start with dedicating a journal for gratitude. We tend to get complacent and grumpy when we focus more on what we don’t have than on what we DO have. Start writing down all of the things that you’re grateful or thankful for. Go back in time on this too. It gets fun.

I did this recently and I went back and wrote that I was thankful for my second grade teacher, Mrs. Cram. She was one of the first people to tell me that I was a leader and that I was going to help lots of people in this world one day. Holy cow! I was teary eyed when I was writing about that situation. We have SO much to be thankful for…let’s write that down and never forget it.

3. Journaling builds a legacy

Don’t you wish you know more about your grandparents and great-grandparents? Wouldn’t it be amazing to give to the next generation in your family or those closest to you, something to pass down? This is something that we are very intentional about in our ministry.   This is a book that our Grace@Home ministry put together that helps people outline the legacy that they want to leave and gives them a place to start and a path to follow.

Also, one thing that I just started to doing is writing in the margins of a wide-margin Bible notes to my oldest daughter, Caroline. I’m going to give her that Bible when she turns 13 and hopefully, every page will have notes similar to this… Most of them are lessons that I want her to remember and things that I want her to pay attention to…When I get done, there will be literally thousands of letter letters from me to her that she’ll hopefully treasure forever.

 

The 4 Questions Rattling Inside Every Man’s Brain

Last Saturday I spoke at Grace Church’s quarterly men’s breakfast on the subject: The 4 Questions Rattling Inside Every Man’s Brain.  I’ve always wanted to preach this title.  However, I didn’t have the questions yet!  (Young preachers, I don’t recommend starting with your title and then filling in the gaps).  But I did…

mans brain

 

1.  Do I Have What It Takes?

The short answer is no.  Sorry guys.  In and of yourself, you don’t have what it takes.  However, through the power of the Holy Spirit working in you and through you, the Bible says that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

This question reminds me of a dream that I have regularly.  Here’s how it usually goes:

I am playing some sport, acting in a play or getting ready to give a big speech or sermon when something terrible happens.

In my baseball dream, it’s always ways the last inning and I’m up to bat to win the game.  The only problem is that I can’t find my bat.  I’m looking frantically for it and feeling everyone watch me.  Seconds creep to minutes and I’m stuck.  Then I wake in a panic.

In my football dream, I’m the quarterback and we’re in the fourth quarter in the 2 minute drill.  I look over to the sidelines at my coach for the signals and I can’t remember the play.  I freeze.  My brain locks up.  Frozen.  I wake up in a panic.

In my acting dream, I’m on stage getting ready to act my heart out and I forget my lines.  I wake up in a panic.

In my speech dream, I’ve created the most amazing speech ever (at least in my mind) but I can’t find my notes.  I’m backstage and someone introduces me to come out and I freeze.  I wake up in a panic.

All of these dreams point to the same insecurity…I I have what it takes?

Jesus disciples were complaining one day when they could’t cast a demon out of a young boy.  Jesus said these words, “Only this can come through prayer and fasting.”  Maybe the reason why we don’t feel like we have what it takes is because we are trying to operate in our own strength, not in the power of God!

 

2.  Will I Be Discovered As A Fake?

We hide.  As men, one of the most horrific moments is to be discovered as someone who really doesn’t have it all figured out.  We put on a good front, but we’re not fooling anyone.  We need to realize that God calls us to live in authentic community with others – warts and all.

That’s why James 5:19 is so powerful to me that says “Confess your sins one to another that you may be healed.”  Maybe the reason why we are not healed is because we still hiding behind a mask.  Drop the mask.  Smash it.

 

3.  Why Can’t I Conquer The Sin In My Life?

There is a cycle of sin that grips us.  It’s been around since the Garden of Eden.  Here’s how our enemy works.

1) Deceiver: Satan is the great deceiver saying things like, “You deserve this.  You can’t live without it.  No one will ever find out.”

2) Forbidden Fruit:  We take the fruit and it’s fun, enjoyable, exciting.  

3)  Accuser:  Satan switches identities on us and becomes the great accuser saying things like, “How could you?  You’re a loser!  You better not go to church!  You’d better NEVER confess! 

4)  Shame: We are filled with shame.  Shame is different than guilt.  Guilt is feeling sorry for what you did.  Shame is feeling sorry for who you are.  

5) Silence: We remain silent with others and God.  We don’t confess.  We don’t receive healing.  It’s a vicious cycle.  

Round and round we go…Will it stop, no one knows.

4.  What Will My Legacy Be?

As William Wallace (Braveheart) once said, “Every man dies, not every man really lives!”  This is true.  How will you be remembered?  What will your legacy be?  Are you going to be remembered as someone who had loads of potential, but never saw it realized?  Are you going to be remembered by those closest to you as one who was a selfish, arrogant person?  Greedy?  Lazy?  Workaholic?  Drunk?

Or, will your adult children brag about you to their grandkids about YOUR amazing, godly, life-giving legacy?  We all have a dash that will be on our tombstone.  The dash between the time we were born and the time we died.  How will you live your dash?

 

 

 

Baptizing Barbies: How to creatively teach children about baptism (video)

Last summer, my daughter Caroline got baptized at Grace Church.  It was a special time for everyone.  But before she got baptized, I wanted her to fully understand what baptism means.  Watch this video as she explains how we incorporated Barbies into the baptism process.  (And, yes, she is this animated ALL the time – I don’t know where she gets it from).

Baptism is an outward sign of an inward faith.  It doesn’t matter if you are 6 or 96, God still wants you to follow the Lord’s commandment to be baptized.  If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, this is the next step in your faith journey.

If you are interested in exploring baptism and are in the Kansas City area, I am leading a baptism class on Sunday, May 4th at 9:30 at Grace Church.  You can find more information here.

Are You a Prayer Warrior or a Prayer Worrier?

God is calling us to a vibrant prayer life…one that stirs His soul as well as ours.  Over the past couple of weeks I have been greatly convicted about my prayer life, or lack thereof.  I recently read  Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.  I can honestly tell you that it has changed my life.  It has made me wake up to the reality that we don’t need more sermons.  We need more prayer.

axe

We don’t need more programs.  We need more prayer. 

 

We can be changed more in 10 minutes of earnest prayer than we can in listening to 10 hours of sermons.

Jesus didn’t call his church to be a “house of preaching” or “a house of programs.”  He called his church to be “a house of prayer.”

As I began to let these truths sink into my heart, I began to feel incredibly convicted at the lack of priority that I have placed on prayer.  Yes, Frances and I would pray before every meal and before we went to bed.  But God is calling us for greater things.  He is calling us to make prayer the center of everything that we do…make it who we are.

 

One of the greatest things that I received from this book was how it made note of the fact that all the way back in Genesis 4:27 people instinctively began to “call upon the name of the Lord.”  This was the first recorded mention of men and women, boys and girls crying out to God for help, protection and guidance.

 

Ironically, God’s people were not first called “Jews” or “the children of Israel” or even “Hebrews.”  In the very beginning their name was “those who call upon the name of the Lord.” 

 

I love what Jim Cymbala says about this.  “On some unmarked day…at some unnoted hour…a God-placed instinct in human hearts came alive.  People sensed that if you are in trouble and you call out to God, he will answer you!  He will intervene in your situation.”

 

Some other passages reflect this idea of calling out to God in a passionate way:

 

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

 

Matthew 7:7-11 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  9“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 

However, this is the time when Satan will come in with his temptations saying things like, “You are too busy to pray.  You don’t need to pray.  You can get along just fine apart from wasting your time with prayer.  Use your creativity and your ingenuity to do God’s work.  You don’t need to depend on God.”

 

How many times have you actually believed these lies?  I know I have several times!

But the fact is that we are too busy NOT to pray!

Whenever you feel like you are too busy to pray, think of the lumberjack story.  This picture might help.

Remember to Sharpen your Ax!

         Two lumberjacks were having a competition who could cut down the most amount to trees before their shift was over.  They both started early in the morning at 7:00 in the morning.  The first lumberjack ran out to the first few trees and immediately began to pull ahead in the race.  The other lumberjack simply sat down on a tree stump and sharpened his ax for the first whole hour of competition.  The other lumberjack was making fun of his “time wasting” buddy because he had not cut down any trees yet.

 

A striking fact emerged.  Once the lumberjack who had spent the first hour sharpening his ax started to actually cut, he noticed that he was flying through the trees, cutting them down at rapid speed.  So ironically, at noontime, the two were tied.  Well, as the first lumberjack began to slow down quickly, the second was just picking up the pace!

 

At the end of their friendly competition, the one who stopped early to sharpen his ax, in the long run, was able to cut down more trees.  Why?  Because he took the time to prepare.

 

In the Christian life, we can get more done in 8 hours of work and one hour of prayer than if we spent 10 hours of straight work.  I don’t know how it works, but it does.  I guess God removes the distractions when we first dedicate our day to Him and clears the path so we can get more done for Him.

 

I challenge you, wherever you are in your spiritual journey, to begin a lifestyle of passionate prayer.  Start today.  Start now.  The first prayer is the most difficult…yet it’s the most rewarding!

Don’t Let Doubt Become Your Snuggie

God has made you for great things.

snap out of it

There is no one like you on the planet.  No one has your unique story.  He has set you up for great things (if only that greatness is being faithful in the small things).  Sometimes that’s the greatest champion of them all.  If you’re doubting, stop it.  If you’re afraid of rejection, leverage that fear for passion in your work.  Stop using your incredible brain to think up elaborate rationalizations and justifications for not taking action!  Start.  Start somewhere.  But start.  Get moving.  The only difference between the rut and the grave is the depth.  Snap out of it.  Let God comfort you while your working toward HIS dream.

 

“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled. Credit belongs to the man who really was in the arena, his face marred by dust, sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs to come short and short again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. It is the man who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasm and knows the great devotion, who spends himself on a worthy cause, who at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And, who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and cruel souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt