Category: General (page 1 of 13)

Trust and the Words We Speak in Protest

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 12:18

It seems every week, there is a global or national crisis that demands my outrage. I am often asked why I do not “speak out” on all the ills plaguing our generation, why I am not lending my song more often to the choir of bloggers. I do pay attention and I do care deeply about racial discord, injustice, the immigrant crisis, violence and the need for better systems and laws to protect the marginalized. I pray. I have conversations with serious thinkers. I meet with local and state leaders who can make a legislative difference. I invest my time and money into local solutions like our Dream Centers.

Godly dissent and petition in the public square has its place and role in the pastoral vocation, but I want my published and pronounced words to be wise and helpful. Trust is merited by measured responses, not angry rants. I will not be silent when prophetic protest is needed, but trust is earned and it is fragile.

When we speak, let’s have something to say that is based on facts and scripture and not just emotion and rhetoric. Social media is a powerful tool to communicate quickly to large crowds, but it is a cheap way to build sincere relationships that lead to difficult, but needed change. It is much easier to hide behind a keyboard than to meet face to face with those who oppose you and to find common ground. I would rather my words heal, restore and conciliate than simply go viral.

For those of us who have been given the sacred assignment to pastor people, our vocation requires us to talk about difficult issues with broken people and presumably, permission has been granted for us to speak candidly. That permission is based on trust that has been earned, not given.

Trust is bestowed because we are considered worthy of trust. Our integrity has been measured, scrutinized and witnessed. We are trustworthy. People give us access to vulnerable spaces in their lives which means they are taking a great risk and a lot is at stake.

Trust is earned in deliberate drops and lost in downpours, so we should not take any of it for granted and guard our reputations as sacred. What we say, how we say it, and when we say it matters. Silence is sometimes the voice of wisdom.

 

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Black Forest Fire – How Can We Help?

This past week, we watched helplessly here in Colorado as a massive wildfire swept through our community, devastating over 500 homes, killing two people and scorching thousands of acres. Our local, county, state and federal governments immediately launched an attack on this vicious blaze.

Evacuations were ordered and an organized exit from heavily populated neighborhoods ensued. Roadblocks were manned by local sheriff’s deputies and firefighters from municipalities across our region rallied together.

 

Every day, our sheriff, local and federal fire officials, and county commissioners demonstrated amazing discipline and trustworthy leadership.

 

New Life has been able to help by assisting the Red Cross as a shelter in the initial hours. Our volunteers and staff have been all over the region offering assistance to evacuees and to those who tragically lost their homes. All of our efforts will continue in the months ahead as people in our community are rebuilding their lives.

 

Hundreds of people who are grieving for those who have lost their homes have asked us how they can help. While much of our work will begin once the burn area is open for remediation, there are several opportunities for immediate assistance. Here are a few:

 

Disaster Assistance Relief Center is the primary center for most services offered to those affected by the Black Forest Fire. If you have a specific skill or service you want to offer, email bffvolunteer@elpasoco.com and the Center will do their best to connect you with actual needs that your service may help meet. Services may include helping to navigate insurance, truck/tractor use, greeting evacuees at the center, helping field calls, among other things. Email bffvolunteer@elpasoco.com to volunteer or offer a service to the Center.

 

Black Forest Animal Sanctuary needs help organizing donations, cleaning up from the fire, doing repairs, and bringing their own animals back, as well as additional shelter set-up help. They are also in need of hay. If you d like to donate, call 719-494-3934. To volunteer, ask for Tracy.

 

Tri-Lakes Cares is a great organization that has been extremely helpful to fire fighters, evacuees, and those affected by the fire. Not only has the fire affected many of their regular volunteers, but their hours have also expanded to meet needs resulting from the disaster. They are in need of volunteers for shifts to help sort and process donations, to distribute food and clothing, and help get items to firefighters and families affected, as well as other areas. Call 481-4864 ext 117 to volunteer.

 

You may drop off food and bring gift cards and/or money to the front desk at New Life Church from 9am-5pm Monday-Friday and during services on Sunday. For the next two Sundays, bring donations to the Black Forest Fire Relief Table located in the lobby. A list of preferred food items can be found in the lobby at NLC. Checks should be made out to New Life Church with “Black Forest Fire” written in the memo line. You can also give online at www.newlifechurch.org. For those giving gift cards, suggested stores include Target, Wal-Mart, King Soopers, Lowes, Home Depot, as well as gas stations, restaurants, clothing stores, etc.

 

Please continue to pray for all of those affected.

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Let Her Lead

The following is a quick excerpt from my newest e-book, Let Her Lead, which just released. These few paragraphs explain why I tackled such an important topic.

Callie is twelve years old now, almost thirteen, making the ridiculously quick hop between girlhood and womanhood right before my eyes. Boys ease into puberty the way winter gives way to spring, as evidenced by my son, Abram, now fourteen. It’s subtle. It’s slow. It happens in fits and starts, flying under the radar most times. But girls? One day they’re a mishmash of giggles, pigtails and pink swim floaties, and the next day they’re full-on woman, see them flourish, hear them roar.

This transition has got me thinking not only about the twelve-year-old “woman” who now resides in my abode—and at five-foot-seven, Callie’s frame, at least, is precisely that—but also about the world she will inhabit once she enters adulthood for real. What kind of interests will she hope to pursue? What kind of friends will she choose to have? What kind of bosses will she wind up working for? What kind of people might she lead? What kind of faith community will surround her? What kind of man will she marry? (That last question leaves me blank. My daughter still wants nothing to do with the opposite sex, which is totally fine by me.)

But to my point: Given all the promise and potential awaiting Callie, how do I help prepare her for her future? And how do I prepare that future for her?

These are the central questions banging around my brain as I sit down to write this brief book. We’re going to have a conversation about a topic—women in leadership—that is touchy for many people, especially church people, but I’m not trying to be provocative here. I’m not trying to pick a fight. I actually want to defuse this topic that has been infused with such vitriol along the way by simply revisiting a few themes that have been sidelining women far too long.

But I also want to begin by admitting that, as a dad, I cringe at the thought that in ten or twenty or thirty years, my bright, capable daughter could have doors slammed in her face for the simple fact that she happens not to be male. If she is cut out to be a corporate CEO, then I hope she’ll be hired. If she is cut out to be President of the United States—perhaps even the first female one, if Hillary doesn’t get there first—then I hope she’ll be elected. If she is cut out to be a professor or a lawyer or an engineer or a horse trainer, then I hope she’ll be chosen there too.

And if she is cut out to lead within the church, then I hope she’ll be invited to lead.

If I were to boil down my desires, dreams, assumptions, and plans for the type of world that will embrace my daughter, they’d fit into two simple manifestos: Let her be her. And let her be heard.

This isn’t just my vision for the world ten or twenty years from now, when Callie is a bona fide adult. It is my vision today, here, in our present culture. There are 30- and 40- and 50-year-old women who want to engage in leadership now. What I want for Callie is the same thing I want for them: to be seen and heard, acknowledged and valued, loved well and led well…and learned from by both women and men.

What others are saying about Let Her Lead:

I am really glad that my friend Brady Boyd decided to write this book! So many books that deal with controversial topics try to score points or win a debate, but that isn’t what Brady does here. He simply wants to see what the Bible says about women in leadership. He deals with this very sensitive issue with understanding and love. What he finds is so encouraging; this is a book that everyone should read.  Greg Surratt, Lead Pastor Seacoast Church; Author of Ir-Rev-Rend

I am so gratified to know my friend, Brady Boyd, is standing with those in the larger Church community who see “women in ministry leadership” as timelessly intended by God, and thus, wholly consistent the Holy Scriptures—both Old and New Testament!  I urge leaders and other workers in today’s Church to read, be nourished hereby, and join in seeing the whole Body of Christ activated for ministry at whatever level of gifting or leadership the Holy Spirit has confirmed to be present by mature elders in their congregation and network. Jack W. Hayford, Chancellor, The King’s University—Dallas/Los Angeles

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Weighty Words

In your teaching, show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned … Titus 2:7b-8a

I had not seen this young leader in almost a year and the difference in 12 months was remarkable. In times past, I could see the obvious talent and the potential for influence, but the big difference was in the weight of his words. He spoke and lead with authority and the congregation was listening, leaning in and following him.

His words carried a serious and sound tone that resonated from a deep place he had discovered somewhere along the way. I was proud of him and I told him so. That is no easy accomplishment. Similar things were said about Jesus after he spoke the Sermon on the Mount. The crowds were amazed because he spoke with authority (Matthew 7:28-29).

We can suppose this happening for Jesus, but how does it happen in us? What is it that calls us out of adolescence and into deeper waters? I do not want to melt this down into some overly simplistic list of actions, but I do believe the scripture from Titus that I quoted above gives some insights into the process.

1. Integrity

There must be integrity in our study and teaching. We should only teach what we have truly learned and practiced. I agree that we can teach things we have not perfected, but we can only give away what we have acquired. If we are not generous, our teaching on giving will fall flat. If we are not loving our own spouses, speaking on marriage is a waste of our time. Private devotion always precedes public promotion, especially with teaching the scriptures.

2. Seriousness

Serious study leads to serious teaching. I believe we should not only read our favorite commentaries but we should also read some challenging viewpoints from other tribes of scholars. If we cannot listen to honest debate and then defend our position, maybe we should pause our teaching until we are really believing. Find some teachers who are more conservative or liberal than you and get to know them. Try hard to understand their differing viewpoints. I promise it will only make your messages more clear and less combative.

3. Soundness of speech

The language we use to speak does not just happen accidentally. Our words are formed in us either purposely or haphazardly. Readers become better writers and writers produce better speakers. We must learn to read not just for information, but as students of “how” they communicate. That is one reason any serious speaker must learn to appreciate the storytelling of the classic novelists. The way details are woven through the fabric of a story will only help our own writing skills which then shapes our own storytelling. Reading to write and writing to speak takes discipline and time, but in the end, it gives our words weight.

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How I Deal with Disappointments

If you are going to be a pastor, you will face disappointments. Sorry for the buzz kill beginning, but that is the truth. The offerings will sometimes be less than your church expenses; the sermon you planned to preach was a lot better than the one you actually preached. People will leave your congregation for the silliest of reasons. Your kids and spouse will give you “the look” when you arrive home with an empty emotional cup. The list could go on and on, I promise.

But the good news is that God is working at all times on our behalf in the invisible realms, and he is well aware that all of that invisibility will cause us distress from time to time. The job doesn’t pan out. The house doesn’t sell. The marriage doesn’t last. The runaway doesn’t return. The investment doesn’t yield viable returns. Circumstances scatter our dreams and wreck our plans. Or so it seems, anyway. We simply cannot see what God sees. We cannot know what he alone knows.

 

And so we wrestle. We admit disappointment. We engage in earnest dialogue with our God. But in the end, whether resolution is reached or not, we come around to the same vow: “I will not fall away. I trust you, Father. I really do. And while I don’t understand what you’re doing, I know you are guiding me along righteousness’ path. I’m disappointed but not disheartened, Lord. You’re still God, and you are good.”

I’m learning a couple of things these days about how to let God be God in my life. First, I now realize that I’m most vulnerable to feelings of insecurity and disappointment when I’m walking through a season of significant change. Criticism of any kind is never fun. But it carries a special sting when I’m operating off my normal routine. During a typical week, I have systems in place for staying connected to Christ, my family, my friends, my staff, and my goals regarding finances, health, and growth. But toss a new role, a new city, a new house in the mix, and those systems take a hit. As a result, I’m thrown off-balance. I’m uncertain. I’m self-doubting. I’m tired. This is when Satan loves to strike. Simply knowing when to watch out for my enemy helps me block his predictable blow.

Second, I’m learning that there is safety in numbers. Specifically, the more I can hang around secure, measured, kind people, the more those tendencies rub off on me. Secure people live free from anxiety and fear. They are immovable, unshakeable, firm. And they teach me to live this way too.

I’m married to the most secure person I know. Pam and I have gone through some of the biggest traumas and crises a couple can face, and yet she remains fixed and steady and sound. When I arrive home each afternoon, I know I’ll be walking into an environment marked by peace. There is little drama in the Boyd home, because my bride has done her due diligence on the insecurity front. She has fought the battles she needed to fight in order to prevail secure and strong. As you’d imagine, it’s a huge gift to be married to someone like that.

A third thing I’m learning is that it’s really difficult to stay disappointed at someone or some circumstance that you are praying for regularly. I should clarify here that by “pray for” I don’t mean “ask God to strike them with a bad case of oozing boils.”

There is a country song out right now that starts out as a repentant ballad. A heartbroken guy finds himself sitting in church one Sunday, devastated over his girlfriend walking out on him. For the first time in his life, he’s actually open to advice from a preacher on what to do. “You can’t go on hating others who have done wrong to you,” the preacher says that day at church. “Sometimes we get angry, but we must not condemn. Let the good Lord do his job, and you just pray for them.”

So the guy decides to take the high road and pray for the gal who broke his heart—that her brakes would go out, that a flowerpot would fall from a windowsill and knock her in the head, that her birthday would come and nobody would call, and that her dreams would never come true.

Not exactly the kind of prayers I mean.

And then, a fourth lesson, even if more trivial than the first three: A good night’s sleep works wonders when you’re wrestling with disappointment. Before you reply on Facebook or Twitter or e-mail, or are tempted to pick up the phone and attack, go to sleep.

I mean it.

Get a good night’s rest and re-evaluate things in the light of a brand new day. Have some quiet time. Join hands with your spouse or your kid or your dog and sing “Kumbaya” if you must. Do anything to re-center yourself so that God has the chance to speak to you. Notice how your anger has diminished. Notice how your perspective has shifted. Notice how your passion for writing a nasty note has been replaced by the urge to repair the relationship instead.

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Conversations with Jesus

This weekend we began a new series of messages to take a fresh look at the conversations Jesus had with a diverse group of people who were either not following him at the time or were ready to quit. These conversations with people like Matthew, the hated tax collector and the Samaritan woman at the well give us a clear look at the love and attention God still has for the outsiders.

These stories are also compelling because the questions and comments from these people are the same ones being asked today. These stories are not meant to be learned formulas that help us persuade people to follow Jesus. Evangelistic arguments are tired attempts at introducing a beautiful story with determined facts. These discourses show everyone around us that the story of the Gospel is still being told and everyone, including people we may have written off, have a part in this spiritual narrative.

So, for the next several weeks, we are going to listen with fresh ears at the conversation Jesus had with the demoniac who lived in a graveyard, and to the dialogue he had with a thief on the cross next to him. We will also lean into the conversation Jesus had with two discouraged believers on the road to Emmaus, plus learn from the story of the woman who was thrown at the feet of Jesus after being caught in adultery.

I know all these stories, but I have not heard ALL of these stories.  The Scriptures are continuously articulate and new revelation and insight can happen anytime we listen with spiritual ears. Join me on the journey and pray for those who are searching for the hope and truth we all know can be found if only they could have a conversation with Jesus.

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The Merger of Two Church Families

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. Psalm 133:1

This Sunday Celebration Church will join our New Life family in a merger of two churches and we are thrilled to welcome them. For the past few months, the elders and leaders of Celebration have sensed that a transition was happening with their Senior Pastor Barry Farah. Several options were considered, but after much prayer, the team decided to encourage their congregation to join New Life.

It is truly remarkable to see such unity among two churches in the same city. Instead of competing and comparing, we have decided to complement the work that is happening in both congregations. Many of the ministries happening at Celebration will continue on our campus and they will also strengthen and come alongside the existing works at New Life.

This certainly was not an easy decision to close the doors of a successful and healthy church and I am sure the transition for many of the Celebration members will be emotional and difficult at first. At New Life, we are hoping to create a welcoming and warm environment to help them feel at home right away. We are setting aside some reserved seating for a few Sundays so they can worship with familiar faces and we are hosting a lunch for them the first week so they can meet our ministry team.

The leaders at Celebration have done a thorough job of communicating and answering questions, but still, blended families take time to bond and trust one another.  I do feel God’s smile on this, though, because I am certain God loves when his people dwell together in unity.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life evermore. Psalm 133:3

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Thankful for 2012

2012 will go down as one of the most memorable years of our lives for many reasons. There was certainly too much violence with shootings in Aurora and Newtown that left scores dead. Our city also suffered through the most destructive wildfire in our history with over 300 homes lost during the summer. Then there were months of political arguing during a contentious election season.

Yes, there was plenty of bad and even horrific news, but I am also grateful for so many amazing things that happened, too.

1. Pam, Abram and Callie are healthy and we love each other.

2. We planted a thriving church in Fort Collins, CO. with our friend Aaron Stern.

3. Our church paid off over $3million of debt.

4. I met Eugene Peterson and I think he liked me.

5. The Mayans were wrong.

6. We leased our first apartment complex to house homeless single moms and their families.

7. Our downtown campus opened at Easter and is doing well under the leadership of Glenn Packiam.

8. Participated and partnered with ministries around the world that saw over 3 million people accept Christ.

9. I survived Disney.

10. We opened our first Dream Center in Swaziland.

11. I released a book called Sons and Daughters

12. We gave away over $300,000 of relief supplies to Waldo Fire victims.

13 We started a Sunday night service led by David Perkins where hundreds gather for worship and prayer.

14. Students from around the world are studying in our School of Worship, the Kings University and our Desperation Leadership Academy.

15. Miracles are happening every week in the lives of women who receive treatment at our free medical clinic.

This list could go on, for sure. I am so thankful that even in the midst of bad news, good news was breaking in all around us. God was with us. This I know.

What are you most thankful for in 2012?

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Our Violence Problem

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. Genesis 6:11

All of our hearts are sad and heavy after the tragic deaths of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. A young man armed with several guns apparently forced his way into a school and in a matter of minutes, took the lives and futures of so many innocent victims.

Almost immediately, politicians and TV pundits began talking about gun control and the need for more stringent legislation on the sale and possession of firearms. I am fine with that conversation taking place as part of civil dialogue.

I am a gun owner and have been all my life, but I realize it is too easy for some disturbed people to buy them in our sporting good stores. If there can be helpful conversations between the mental health community and our legislators resulting in laws that could eliminate this from our society, then count me in for support.

More importantly, let’s also talk about the subculture of violence in our country. Where is the outrage about the violent video games our kids are playing and the movies that are marketed trumpeting horrible scenes of carnage and bloodshed? At my house, my kids have gaming devices, but there are no games where any kind of weapon takes the life of another person, and my kids do not watch violent movies.

I challenge every parent, regardless of your views of the 2nd Amendment, to take a stand against violence in our homes. Let’s be a people of peace, who are following the Prince of Peace, and let’s teach our children that life is a gift from God which should be cherished, nourished and protected.

Let’s have these difficult conversations, starting in our homes and across the table from our friends, but let’s make sure we are tackling the root of the issue and not just the fruit.

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Waiting for the Prodigal to Come Home

Point your kids in the right direction – when they are old, they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6 (Message)

The holidays are especially difficult for people waiting for a prodigal to come home. Many are hoping that children, spouses, and friends will return to their faith and leave the destructive lives they are living. Empty chairs at dinner tables during the holidays are stark reminders that not everyone has decided to follow the Prince of Peace.

Recently, it seems I have spoken with scores who are feeling this pain and often I quote the Scripture above from Proverbs 22:6. I am not attempting to give them simple answers to complex situations, but this promise is rich, still. Most parents are hard on themselves, remembering all their failures when their children were home. All of us who have ventured on this road have stumbled along the way, wishing we had been more intentional with our message or our witness.

This passage is so hopeful, not because it promises an instant result from a prescribed spiritual formula, but because the real hope is not in our prowess as parents, but in the faithfulness of God who created our children in the first place. He is faithful to our kids and he wants our faith even when there is no proof that those we love are even paying attention to God.

The Holy Spirit is really good at getting our attention, especially when the prodigal has reached the bottom. Parents have told me that jail and prison were the salvation of their kids because nothing else seemed to shake them from their deception. I sure hope none of our kids end up behind bars, but I am prayerful that all of our kids will have deep revelation of just how much grace there is for them.

This I know – we must be faithful parents who speak truth, love deeply, extend extravagant grace, build real relationships with our kids and pray always for their heart to know Christ. Even after all this, I am even more hopeful that God is with our kids and will one day, bring them home.

If you want read more about this, get a copy of Sons and Daughters which tells the stories of many prodigals who have found their way home, including me.

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