Category: Memories (page 2 of 4)

The Sending Culture of a Healthy Church

I suspect most pastors would not want their kids to live in their house forever. At some point, the little munchkins need to move out of the basement and into a home or apartment of their own. So, if families are okay with sending their kids into the world to be productive adults, why are churches so reluctant to release their sons and daughters?

Every healthy church has a sending culture. In Acts 13, the leaders of the fellowship had been fasting and praying, when the Holy Spirit instructed them to send out Paul and Barnabas for a really important assignment. I imagine the leaders recognized these men were promising young leaders who could help them build a big church in Antioch if they would stay. But these leaders had something better in mind, something more eternal. I imagine Paul and Barnabas had already discussed their possible transition with the leaders and what we read in the scriptures was the beautiful result.

Leaders must allow their team to talk openly about transition, without the fear of being punished. We all say we are for the “kingdom” until one of our best leaders wants to leave for good reason, like a marriage. If the family is the mirror of the church, then we should celebrate when our sons and daughters are dutifully betrothed to another ministry assignment. Instead, most us treat Godly transitions like a divorce and make our teams feel shameful for even thinking of leaving.

The Antioch church was limited in their geographic knowledge, but they did rightfully discern that they were not the center of the spiritual universe. By releasing these two young men, millions heard the gospel, churches were planted, and the kingdom really did come to the earth. If they had refused to release them, I suspect most of us would have never heard of the church at Antioch.

I want the team I serve with to feel appreciated, protected and loved. I also want them to know that if God decides to use them in another city, church or country, I will stand alongside them like a dad. I will cry at the wedding, but I will also be glad they have moved out of my house and will soon be starting a family of their own. I can either be a grandfather or a divorce attorney – its my choice.

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Heart Surgery Update

Thanks for all your prayers, Facebook posts, emails, text messages, Tweets, voicemails, and even the snail mail cards. I really appreciate all the encouragement as I move toward heart surgery this Friday. I am thankful for each of you, I promise. I, as well as Pam and the kids are completely at peace about this surgery and believe the best days are still ahead for all of us.

Some of you have asked how to specfically pray in the next few days and weeks, so here is a short list.

1. Pray for a smooth and unenventful pre-surgery procedure on Thursday. I will be in the Cath Lab of the hospital most of the day as they check the electrical functions of my ticker. Pray I get to go home with no complications.

2. Pray for the surgery on Friday, which begins at 1pm. Pray for the surgeons, the nurses, the anesthesiolgist, and anyone else who has a role in the surgery.

3. Pray for minimal pain in the recovery. The heart will be great, but the sternum needs to heal quickly so I can get back to normal routines, like walking, coughing, hiking, and preaching.

4. Pray for Pam because I am not good at being still at home for long periods of time. She is super gracious, but this may be her biggest test yet. 🙂

 

Thanks again for all the love and support. Turbo Brady is on the way, and I cannot wait to get back to living alongside you and not talking about surgeries, pulmonary valves, etc.  Remember, I may be on pain meds when I write my next blog, so I ask your forgiveness in advance for any crazy thoughts that may be posted.

Peace and blessings to all of you.

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Yes, I am Having Heart Surgery

On Sunday, I told my New Life family that I would be taking a few weeks off from my role as pastor to take care of an issue with my heart. Not my spiritual heart, but my physical, real-life beating one. I will be having pulmonary valve replacement surgery on June 10th at an area hospital. I will be in the hospital for 5-7 days and recovering at home for 4-6 weeks. This surgery is fairly common and the prognosis for a full recovery is very good. In fact, my doctors say I will have more energy than ever after the surgery. So get ready for Turbo Brady in July!

In both Sunday morning gatherings I detailed my life journey as a heart patient and at the end, the elders and the church family gathered around me for prayer. I am so thankful to belong to a close knit church who embraces the power of faith and family. If you want to hear my story and see the prayer time, click here.

I am scheduled for two pre-surgery procedures in the the next few weeks, plus I plan to spend a few days with my family on vacation so I can begin the surgery journey rested. While I am gone, we will continue the sermon series, “This is My Story” with some incredible speakers who have amazing testimonies of miracles and redemption. Here is the speaking schedule:

May 29th – Tom Davis, the founder of Children’s Hope Chest and a key partner with New Life in serving orphans and the poor around the world.

June 5th – Pastor Jimmy Evans, the pastor of Trinity Fellowship in Amarillo and a New Life Overseer will share his story.

June 12th – Britt Hancock, a New Life missionary to Mexico who has incredible firsthand stories of miracles and salvations among the Indian people.

June 19th – Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family will share his story of being raised in the foster system and discovering God as dad.

June 26th – Ross Parsley will return to speak for the first time since leaving New Life to plant One Chapel in Austin, TX

July 3rd – Dave Roever, a decorated Vietnam veteran will share his powerful story of finding God in the midst of great tragedy.

July 10th – David Perkins, our youth pastor, will continue our study of the book of Luke

July 17th – I hope to return.

I am thankful for a great team of leaders at New Life who will lead well in my absence. Thanks again for all your prayers and support. I will try to post regular updates here or you can get real time updates from me on Twitter @PastorBrady

Health and peace to all of you. God is with us and He is for us.

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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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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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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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Fear No Evil – Chapter Nine

The journey through my first book continues with an excerpt from chapter 9 which talks about how we got our joy back at New Life after a season of darkness and tragedy. I would love to hear your thoughts about this very important topic.

The proceeds from Fear No Evil will help support the Dream Centers we are opening here in Colorado Springs. The book releases April 26th on Amazon, but you can pre-order Fear No Evil here.

There is a reason that every car manufactured in this world has a small rear-view mirror and a large windshield, which is that you and I are supposed to be far more focused on what is in front of us than on what it is we have just passed. But there were times after the shooting when New Life had the two fixtures swapped. We allowed our windshield to become tiny and our rear-view mirror to captivate our every thought. And so one final joy-robber I want to mention is this: beware of your life’s windshield becoming dangerously small.

Whenever we allow the forward-looking, future-oriented, front-windshield work yet to be done to eclipse that magnificent work that is being accomplished all around us, we miss real blessings that God is trying to pass our way. What’s more, we give the enemy of our souls a foothold as he works to deflate our hearts.

Satan loves nothing more than when you and I fixate on our past. Don’t give him that kind of satisfaction! Focus on the good you see happening, and on all that lies ahead. For us, one simple way this idea got played out involved engaging in our “Summer of Serving.” Despite the two cataclysmic events we’d walked through, we called the church to rally together on behalf of our city, we prayed fervent prayers asking for direction, and then we worked to meet as many needs as we could possibly find. We planted gardens and repainted walls at the downtown rescue mission, we lifted the spirits of home-bound elderly men and women who craved community, we cooked and delivered meals to families in need and more. The acts of service didn’t equate to quick progress in terms of our emotional healing, but they did help us shift our focal point from our own pain to the needs we could actually help meet. And by taking that one small step of faith, our church was reaffirmed in our belief that God would use us in days to come to serve the poor, plant new churches, and catalyze transformed living in people whose paths we crossed.

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Fear No Evil – Chapter Seven

The release of Fear No Evil is about a month away now. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 7, where I describe how New Life took a huge step toward the healing we are now experiencing as a fellowship. The proceeds from my first book will help us open the Dream Centers here in Colorado Springs. You can pre-order the book or download it to your Kindle by clicking here.

ISAIAH 61:2-3 OFFERS a series of promises to those who had mourned in Zion—and to you and me when we grieve today. Speaking prophetically of Jesus Christ, it says that a major reason the Messiah would come in human flesh to planet Earth was to “comfort all who mourn.” He would “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,” verse three picks up, “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

I can’t pinpoint the exact date or time when the shift occurred, but somewhere along the way—during the eighteen months that it took to move from the lion exhibit to the giraffes—beauty really did spring up from ashes. Gladness really did take mourning’s place. And the despair I had come to believe would never depart somehow morphed into heartfelt praise. I woke up one day in June 2009 and realized I was available for God’s use once more.

Let me explain what I mean.

Scores of people I know have suffered great loss in life and are emotionally shut down as a result. They never learned to properly mourn and grieve, and so the pain gets stuffed further down. The day finally dawns when they can’t engage in any aspect of life, because their enthusiasm and passion are gone. They can’t engage with their spouse. They can’t engage with their kids. They can’t engage with their role at work. They can’t engage with the vision for their local church. The emotional toll they’ve been carrying prohibits them from engaging in any aspect of life. And as a result, they are unavailable to God and others to be salt and light in the world.

I saw this play out firsthand at New Life. A couple that has faithfully served our body for many years approached me one weekend and said, “Brady, we love what God is doing among this church and how you are leading us into a brighter future, but for some reason, we just stay stuck. We haven’t been able to get involved like we used to be involved. We haven’t been able to worship like we used to worship. We aren’t serving like we used to serve.”

Without intending to, this couple had allowed themselves to become unavailable to God. They had neglected to adequately mourn the losses they had suffered, and spiritually and physically they couldn’t find their way back to full engagement.

As you and I learn to grieve properly—and fully—we see God show up with comfort for our weary souls. The two move back and forth in waves: we grieve, God comforts, we grieve, God comforts even more. He exchanges our ashes for beauty and gives gladness where mourning once was. Our growth, a “planting of the Lord” as the prophet Isaiah puts it, displays God’s splendor.32 “This is why I equip you to eventually move on from pain,” God essentially says, “so that my glory can be gathered through you.”

Months after the shooting, we as a church broke ground, laid soil, and planted two tall, beautiful blue spruce trees of remembrance on the parking spot where Stephanie and Rachel Works had been shot. And on that crisp weekday morning, that promise was on our minds. What Satan meant for death would bring forth undeniable life. Where a spirit of despair had once clouded our sight, pure praise would be on our lips. Collectively we declared that we were ready to move forward, to pursue whatever kingdom dreams God had on his mind. Our time with the lions was over; a new exhibit was calling our name.

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Fear No Evil – Chapter Five

For the past several weeks, I’ve been sharing some excerpts from my first book, Fear No Evil, which releases in about a month. To be honest, Chapter Five, entitled, Disney Doesn’t Do Christianity, is my favorite. I talk about the realities of suffering and what we’ve learned from our season of pain at New Life.

By the way, all the proceeds from this book will support the Dream Centers we are opening here in Colorado Springs. If you want to pre-order, Fear No Evil, click on the title.

Here is a short excerpt from chapter five. I would love to hear your thoughts.

As human beings, you and I both have to learn to confront our pain—to acknowledge it and to grieve. Whether we’re talking about the loss of a loved one or the loss of a career, a bank account, or a dream, it is absolutely critical to stop, to weep, to groan. I think of families who have experienced the sudden loss of a house, either to fire or to a flood. Sure, it was just sheetrock and two-by-fours, but their most precious memories were made inside. It was their first “real” purchase. It was the place where their children were raised. It was their family’s haven, the spot where they would rest and relate and know peace.

Or what about people who have experienced the sudden loss of a marriage? A husband thought the union would last forever, but then one day, divorce papers were served. “But she was my high-school sweetheart,” he laments. “She was everything in my life.” Regardless who is at fault in a split like that, division always hurts.

What do you do when sudden loss occurs? I believe Jesus would say, “You mourn.”

As I said, I’ve been part of a local church since my boyhood years, and yet I can count on one hand the number of sermons I’ve heard on how to grieve well. We talk a lot about the good news but neglect to mention that life sometimes turns bad. For instance, how many times have you been directed to the words of Ecclesiastes 7:3? “Sorrow is better than laughter,” it says, “because a sad face is good for the heart.” In our comfort-seeking society, most people would read those words and come away saying, “Huh? How can sorrow possibly be better than laughter?”

What Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, knew that you and I would do well to remember is that the reason a sad face is good for the heart is because it is in our sadness that pain gets confronted, once and for all. Having pain confront us and choosing to confront that pain ourselves are two very different things. Confronting our pain means saying, “I know that I’ve just taken a hit here, a hit that really hurt.”

“Something terrible did happen.”

“I am hurting as a result.”

“We are hurting as a result.”

“This is hard, but it is real.”

Admitting truths such as these forces the internal protesting to cease. It invites Jesus into the situation so that the process of restoration can begin. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,” Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:4. It’s when we stop to truly grieve a loss that God can intervene.

The alternative of course is denial, in which we utterly resist what is real. We talk ourselves out of believing that something bad has just unfolded and that we were wounded as a result. The approach does nothing for our personal wholeness and keeps God’s healing ways at bay.

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Fear No Evil – Chapter Four

For the next several weeks, leading up to the late April release of my first book, I am posting some excerpts from each chapter. All the proceeds from this book go to support the Dream Centers we are opening here in Colorado Springs. If you want, you can Pre-Order Fear No Evil here.

This is from Chapter 4, where I describe the unbelievable Wednesday night gathering at New Life Church after the shooting the previous Sunday.

After the great Old Testament leader Moses died, his aide Joshua was tapped by God to take the reins and lead the Israelites across the Jordan River. And as God commissioned Joshua for this new role, he told him not once, not twice, but three times to “be strong and courageous.” “Be strong and courageous,” he says in Joshua 1:6. “Be strong and very courageous,”7 he says one verse later. And then, in case Joshua missed the first two installments, verse nine reads this way: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Based on the tenor in the room that Wednesday night, I could tell that the people of New Life knew what I firmly believed to be true: This was our Joshua moment. Sunday had threatened to rob us of our peace, our solidarity, and our faith. But on Wednesday night, we would say, “No.”

On Wednesday, we would choose to claim not fear, but courage—to live, to love, to engage.

At any given time, courage either is entering into you or departing from you. It’s always doing one or the other; it is not static. When you’re discouraged—when courage drips its way out of you like water from a leaky hose—nothing you do seems worthwhile. Every molehill shows up as a mountain, and every dilemma is a debilitating crisis just waiting to take you down. All that is negative in life is amplified, and whatever good exists fades to gray.

But when you’re encouraged—when courage is coming in—you feel like you can do just about anything in God’s name and will experience a fair measure of success. You charge hell with a water pistol and serve like your hair is on fire, not knowing what else to do with your massive influx of holy audacity.

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