Month: April 2011

Monday Confessions from a Pastor – Part 2

Dear God,

It’s  the Monday after Easter Sunday, but I am sure you’re already aware of that fact.  I hope you were pleased with what happened at church yesterday. By the way, thanks for being there. Church is always better when you attend. I hope you felt honored and I did not hinder people from meeting you personally.

I realize I am already rambling here, but you know how tanked I feel on Sunday afternoons and on most Mondays.  Why can’t I be one of those pastors who are hyped after a service instead of one who feels like a can of Spam? By the way, thank you for Tuesdays. My brain and body somehow start working better then.

It was great to see 102 people baptized last night and hundreds more praying to follow you during the morning gatherings. Thanks for what you are doing in Corey and thousands of others who did not get their story told on a video. I hope you felt honored and trust that the spotlight was on you more than those of us on the stage.

Lord, help me to not be so aggravated when people give me immediate criticism about the Sunday talk or wait for me off the stage to point out one minor detail I got wrong. They should wait a day or so to give me their opinion but they don’t and probably never will. Forgive them Lord, because they have no idea how vulnerable and tired I feel right after a service. They have never been on a stage in front of people talking about life and death issues. When you give them that chance, I am sure they will then be more considerate about when to give their feedback.

Lord, help me not feel like every Sunday has to be “the best Sunday ever, in all of church history.” Not every talk has to be epic and not every worship service has to be “off the chain.” Remind all of my pastor friends on Twitter not to hype every weekend like it is the Super Bowl of all church weekends, every single week.  You know that every Sunday service is not that great, because you attend their churches, too.  Help us to build disciples with our weekend gatherings and not create consumers who expect a new and improved product every weekend.

Lord, thanks again for allowing me to pastor New Life.  Keep me focused on the important things and help me to ignore my own carnality. Thanks for the time. I hope to talk to you again real soon.

Love,

Brady

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Dream Centers Update

The opening of the first of many Dream Centers is only a few weeks away! The remodeling of the office space is almost complete thanks to a great team of volunteers and soon we will begin seeing our first patients. This first Dream Center will provide basic medical care to the women of our city who cannot afford it.

Last week, we hired a full-time Physicians Assistant who will lead the medical team. Michelle Laguens is a Naval Academy graduate who also received her medical training at George Washington University.  We are so thankful that God is sending us people who are super qualified but also called to serve our city.

We plan to have a grand opening to the general public sometimes in early July, but in the meantime, the team of volunteers will be training and learning procedures by caring for the women of several local churches.

Remember, we will have constant prayer in some rooms on the second floor of the Dream Center if you are interested in spending some time there during the week. Contact Matthew Ayers at mayers@newlifechurch.org for more information about volunteering. Thanks to everyone who has prayed, served, and contributed to this great ministry to our city.

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Fear No Evil – The Afterword

This is the last blog post on Fear No Evil, I promise, but I do hope you have enjoyed the short excerpts from each of the 10 chapters. In the Afterword, I look forward and try to imagine what life will look like for all of us who have travelled together through the valley of the shadow of death and now stand on the other side.

The book releases everywhere April 26th, but you can pre-order the book by clicking here. The proceeds will help support the Dream Centers we are opening here in Colorado Springs later this spring.

I learned something years ago that came to mind this week. It relates to dendrochronology, which is just a big word for analyzing a tree’s life based on the rings on its trunk that have formed throughout the years. It came to mind because I was roaming through a dense part of the forest near my home and ran across a series of trees that had been felled by lightning. I stared at the cross-section of one of those trees and noticed an irregular pattern of thick and thin rings moving out from the trunk’s center in concentric circles.

I’m not adept at reading tree rings, but according to fifteen minutes of a show I caught on the Discovery Channel one time, people whoare good at reading them can tell you with amazing accuracy how many forest fires, droughts, and beetle infestations a particular tree has withstood in its lifetime, as well as how many healthy years it has known, all by scrutinizing those rings. Which made me wonder what New Life would look like, if you cut our church in half and looked inside. I have a feeling you’d find lots of thick rings representing years and years of great growth, followed by narrow rings representing scandal and the loss of two innocent, young girls. But what energizes me is the idea that just outside of that narrowing, I believe you’d find increasingly wider rings once more—signs of redemption, renewal, and restoration.

As I looked more closely at one of the trees at my feet, I saw a cluster of tiny green roots bursting forth on the very branch that had once been declared dead. The tall spruce had fallen, but it was reclaiming new life as its own. The significance of that unforeseen recovery wasn’t lost on me, for I am experiencing something similar these days.

In the quiet of the forest, I was reminded that all of us—both those who call New Life home and every Christ-follower alive today—are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, as Hebrews 12 calls them, women and men who valiantly suffered for their faith. These are the ones who stared down Satan and remained unshaken. They planted the early churches, prayed fervent prayers, and laid the firm foundation on which we now stand. They’re the martyrs we sing about in worship songs, the ones who died for the sake of God’s glory and did so with the joy of the Lord on their face, and the ones who will cheer us across the heavenly finish line someday. As I considered afresh the sacrifices they’d made, I couldn’t help but wonder what they see when they look down from their celestial seat and peek into Christ-followers’ lives today. Do they see a bunch of beaten-down believers limping their way through life, or do they see the strength of Christ made manifest as his followers claim his promises as their own?

Staring at those hope-filled green roots, I thought to myself, I refuse to limp into heaven someday. If my two choices are becoming a victim or a victor, a victor is what I will be. Admittedly, on more occasions than I care to admit over the past three years, I have whined to God, “I did not sign up for this!” But each time, somehow with lovingkindness to spare, I sensed God say in reply, Zip it, Brady. I took that to be shorthand for this train of thought: Remember who you are. Remember whose you are. Remember the seal of my Spirit that has been graciously placed on your life. Remember the power that is now yours because of my unwavering presence in your life. Stand up. Dust yourself off. Commit yourself to the path of progress once more. There is a mountaintop on the other side. And the view is far better from there.

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God Needs My Help

I was hours away from speaking to a large crowd of people and I found myself praying the typical pastor prayers.

“Help me tonight to speak clearly and effectively. You know I cannot do this without you.”

As I was praying, God interrupted. Imagine that, God had something better to say. 🙂

“Why don’t you pray that you would help me? Maybe I am up to something tonight and you could be a part.”

The way I pray before speaking has forever been changed. From now on, I will ask God to show me what He is doing and to help me to simply cooperate. It’s not about me after all, and that is a huge relief. God is active and moving among people, most of the time, invisibly.

It’s not about my performance or my communicative ability as much as I thought. It’s more about a partnership with the unseen. May we all table our agendas, our objectives and our well planned goals and, instead, simply ride the wake of what God is doing among the people whom He loves more than we can imagine.

Cooperate. Participate. Partnership.

That seems so much better than hoping I do well in front of a crowd. It seems more spiritual and more eternal. Help me God to help you.

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Fear No Evil – Chapter Ten

I am posting some short excerpts from Fear No Evil which releases April 26th. In chapter 10, I talk about the miracles we have experienced as a fellowship these past four years and the Law of the Farm.

The proceeds from this book will help support the Dream Centers we are opening here in Colorado Springs. If you want to pre-order the book, you can click here.

As I write this chapter, it is springtime in Colorado. We’ve endured a long and somewhat hard winter for this part of the country, and I am more than ready for the seasons to change. In front of my house are a dozen or so perennial bushes that have been lying dormant all winter. Before temperatures began to plummet, I covered them in mulch to protect them from the multiple snowstorms I figured they would have to endure, and throughout those bone-chilling months, I’d frequently look out the front windows, find three or four feet of snow blanketing my bushes and wonder whether the flowers would ever come back.

Just this morning, as I made my way to the office, I noticed a few green sprouts had shown up. The seeds had been properly planted, watered, and kept weed-free, and yet still it surprised me to see a small harvest begin to bud—which tells you something about my faith from time to time. After all, if I struggle to believe that a silly day-lily bulb will keep its promise, imagine what I do with the assurances of God.

God’s Word says that we will reap what we sow. It says that if we sow things such as joy, hope, and expectancy, our tomorrows will be brighter than today. When we sow the good seeds he places in our hands, our future will be full of good things. And yet if you’re anything like me, you have your moments when these truths are difficult to accept.

Still, even if we went into the process kicking and screaming, those of us who call New Life home learned to wait on God when our desired timing didn’t line up with his. We wanted the microwave version of healing, but God had something entirely different in mind. In hindsight, I am so glad we submitted to his plans, now that I see the harvest that he had in store for us all along.

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