Month: March 2009

What would happen if our government took the 90-day challenge?

I am no politician but I love politics and, like many, I am concerned about the enormous national debt and the wasteful spending from those elected to serve our country. Recently, I challenged our church to take a 90-day challenge which would require us to do four things.

1. Be thankful at all times
2. Live below our means
3. Give generously
4. Look for opportunities to serve

I wonder what our country would look like if our government leaders followed the same principles. I offer my predictions below.

1. Be thankful at all times
Instead of fearful predictions of gloom and depression, our government leaders should tell us the realities of our challenges, but also remind us of our enormous blessings. We have a highly trained work force and we have incredible creativity and imagination. The computer, the airplane, and automobile are all products of American ingenuity and with the encouragement of our leaders the next generation can create the new marvels of the world. God has blessed our country and we should stop often and give Him thanks and remember that He was our source yesterday and He is our source today and tomorrow.

2. Live below our means
I am convinced the reason so many Americans live with out of control debt is because our government leaders set the tone. Debt is a silent killer. It traps its victims and strangles them with burdens that are too heavy to bear. I know this sounds simplistic, but why can’t we determine the amount of revenue that will be collected and set our budgets to a lesser amount. We must tell our elected leaders that we do not expect them to solve our problems, but we do demand good stewardship and reasonable taxes.

3. Give generously
America has always been one of the most generous nations on earth and that is one of the reasons God has blessed us with abundance. The people of our country want to give to others and they want to bless those in need. We need to champion this idea and allow for generosity. We should reward those who give with even more tax credits and give the individual the freedom to decide where they wish to contribute.

4. Look for opportunities to serve
Every recession reveals the character of our nation. I still believe most people want to serve their fellow man and most of us would sacrifice to see others blessed. This season could fuel a new revolution of service and inspire the millennial generation to give their lives away for something bigger than themselves. I challenge our government leaders to stop living for the next election and to lead the way by doing the right thing for the right reason even if it means losing an election. Jesus was a servant who was a leader, not a leader who served. We must be servants at our very core and see leadership as something we do only when absolutely necessary.

Share this:

What makes church work?

The sound system crashed Sunday morning at New Life during the 9am service and it did not bother God at all. How do I know? His presence was strong as ever, people worshipped, prayed and the Scriptures were taught.  Of course, I like it when the sound system works, but I was reminded that God is not limited by technology and that most churches around the world operate just fine without any at all.

The sound system is fine now, but the Sunday morning snafu made me wonder how many people can tell the difference between hype and God’s presence, something us Charismatics call “anointing.” We live in a wired society and we are bombarded with a symphony of sounds, instant messages, Facebook wall posts, Twitter tweets and podcasts. 

What happens when the wired world malfunctions?  Can we still hear the “still small voice of God” when all is quiet, when the band stops playing, when the lights are not flashing and no one is in front of us leading the way? Do we need hype to worship or is worship all the hype we need?

Later, a BBC film crew asked me what makes church work around the world.  I told them church was not about huge buildings or spiritual rock stars, but church works when all the simple ingredients are mixed together. There must be people who love one another. There must be prayer and focused worship of the living God. The Scriptures need to be taught and the Lord’s death and resurrection remembered with communion. People should get baptized at some point after their salvation and those with needs should have them met from the resources of those who have plenty at the moment.

I like our big building and great sound system, and I even like all the flashing lights and giant screens. I like the café, the bookstore, the Tent, the World Prayer Center, the Theatre, the Tag chapel and even the scary angel in the rotunda. But what I love most is the timeless truth of Scripture, God’s presence, the great people and the revelation that grace is all we need.

As the pastor of New Life, I hope we never substitute hype for worship or allow technology to determine our passion for His presence because the church works just fine whether the sound system does or not.

Share this:

Orphans, Slaves and Sons

I am convinced that most people can live free lives once they discover their real spiritual identity.  Identity is everything. If we believe wrong information about our identity, it affects the way we think, feel and behave. If we know the truth about our identity, bondages are broken and freedom is found.

I believe there are three primary groups of people in most local churches – orphans, slaves and sons.

Orphans are never sure about their place in the family and never believe they really belong among God’s chosen people. The idea of a heavenly father that is good is difficult for an orphan to grasp. Most spiritual orphans have had a lousy experience with their earthly father or other male authority figures. They were never fathered, so they never learned how to be a son. They often wander through life with no sense of purpose and find it difficult to commit long-term to a career, a marriage or a ministry assignment. Orphans are cynical and skeptical of real relationships and often end up hurting others before they can be hurt by others.

Slaves know they have an assignment, but are convinced the only way to please the father is to perform and work harder than others. Their place in the family is dependent on how well they do something. They do not believe their place is secure and believe at any moment they could be replaced or demoted.  Slaves want the constant attention of the father and are jealous when the spotlight is on someone else.

Sons are free to love the father and enjoy the land the father owns. Sons know they have chores and assignments, but know that the father is more pleased with whom they are becoming rather than what they are doing. Sons are free to make mistakes and are sure to receive discipline from the father, but the discipline is only to help them and not intended to harm them. Sons make good fathers, good husbands and healthy leaders. Sons get to spend a lot of time with the father and are never threatened that dad will leave or reject them.

I know I am a son. This truth is what set me free to live years ago.  I pray everyone will discover their true identity and begin to live free.

Share this:

The Only Time I Can Worship

There is only one time I can worship God and that is right now. I worshipped God yesterday and I plan to worship Him tomorrow, but right now is the only time I can actually bow low before my Maker and declare my love for Him.  Our enemy knows this and that is why he wants to distract us from the “right now” moment and make us focus on other things. If he can keep us from worshipping God right now, he can rob us of the victory we need right now.

 

He uses fear and shame to keep us away from God. Shame is the focus on the failures of yesterday and fear is the worry about tomorrow. If our enemy can keep us focused on yesterday and tomorrow, we will not worship the one true God right now. People who are ashamed will shrink from the idea of worship and people who are fearful might go through the religious motions of worship but their minds are distracted by the worries of tomorrow.

 

Worship is not for perfect people. Jesus never told us to get our act together before we approached Him in worship. He told us to come to Him when we are tired and weary and He would give us rest. He told us to come to Him when we are needy, dirty and desperate. He told us to believe in what He had done for us at the cross and not focus on what we had done for Him or what we failed to do for Him.

 

So right now is the time to worship Him. Shame and fear will not keep me from His presence another second. He is waiting and wanting me to approach Him because in His presence is the joy I so desperately need.

Share this:

More Answers to More Questions

Sunday night we met as a New Life family for an update on the ministries of the church. I took questions from those who attended and promised everyone that I would answer additional questions today on my blog. I answered a number of important questions Sunday night before we ran out of time. These are actual questions that were submitted via text that I did not have time to answer.

 

1.      Who are the church’s current overseers and how often do you meet?

 

Our current overseers are Pastor Robert Morris and Pastor Tom Lane from Gateway Church in Southlake, TX; Dr. Jack Hayford from Church on the Way in Van Nuys, CA;  Pastor Larry Stockstill from Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA; and Pastor Jimmy Evans from Marriage Today Ministries. All of these men are trusted local church leaders and have a close relationship to me and my family. We do not formally meet as a group, but I am in constant contact with them by phone, text and email. I see each of them personally several times a year and value their counsel and friendship more than they can imagine. They love New Life and they often come to the church to speak and minister.

 

 

2.      What is the latest with the “Wait No More” initiative?

 

I can’t believe I forgot give the update on this ministry last night. “Wait No More” was launched in November of 2008 in partnership with Focus on the Family and local churches across our state with the goal of finding homes for every child in the Colorado foster system. A few weeks ago over 130 people came to our church for an official orientation so they could get started in the process. There is a great deal of paper work, interviews and background checks that must happen before the state will let a child go to a new home. We are believing for 100 of these children to become a part of New Life families. To date, we have three that have officially been adopted, but again, we are very early in the process and I believe we will exceed our goal.

 

 

3.      Has New Life gone from being a small group church to a program church?

 

No we have not. Small groups will always be the core ministry of our church. I believe in authentic community, but also believe small groups cannot meet every need in a church body. We cannot place the entire burden of discipleship on small group leaders because that leads to burnout and fatigue. We believe programs like New Life U can take some of this burden off leaders and will actually produce more mature leaders for small groups. I have witnessed the powerful effect of community in my own life and will always champion the idea of small groups at New Life.

 

 

4.      Will we ever give more than 10 percent to outreach and missions?

 

I sure hope so. Right now we are facing over $24 million in debt and a challenging economy, but I really believe we will be able to give more and more in the years to come. 

 

 

              5. What is your middle name? J

 

My middle name is Brady, but my first name is Leland, which is my late dad’s name.

Share this:

© 2017

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑