That Church


Recently I had a conversation with some people that attend and volunteer at the church that I work at.  As we talked about some of the conversations they had at work and in the community, I heard several times that many of the people they talk to about church say “Oh you go to That Church”.  Now I’m guessing that the comment comes from people that are either already going to a church or grew up in church.  The reason I say that is because people that are familiar with church tend to have a picture of what a church should be like.  I know that I had those same thoughts when I first heard about NewPointe over 17 years ago. I questioned why they did certain things and why they didn’t do certain things.  But then I tried it and was changed forever, my picture of church was wrecked in a good way.

When a church comes along that doesn’t line up with our picture of the church we grew up with or currently attend, we will question the validity of that church.  Most people’s natural tendency is to poke fun or shoot holes in something they don’t understand.

I actually love that people would say you go to “That Church”.  That means that we are getting noticed and people are actually talking about church, maybe in a way that they have not talked before.  It leads to spiritual conversations and gets people thinking.  There is no perfect church, because there are no perfect people.  As a church leader I don’t claim to know it all or have the best way of doing things.  I want to create a place where people can connect with God and other people.

So here are some things I love about That Church, otherwise known as NewPointe Community Church:

  • I love that we accept and love everyone, no matter how they look, act or where they come from.
  • I love that we speak the truth openly and often and also extend grace openly and often.
  • I love that we are trying to be a church that unchurched  people love to attend.
  • I love that we are outward focused, wanting to reach as many people as possible.
  • I love that we try to lead people to take their next step spiritually no matter where they are at spiritually.  So no matter where someone is at with God, we want them to take another step closer.
  • I love that we partner with parents to help children and students grow spiritually.
  • I love that we are a generous church, giving our time, talent and treasure for God’s work.
  • I love that our messages are relevant, real and practical.
  • I love that we focus more on people than on programs.
  • I love that we use technology to reach people more effectively.
  • I love that we have a vision to reach Ohio and beyond with the Good News about Jesus Christ.
  • I love that we are creative and willing to try new and different things to reach and connect with people.
  • I love that we emphasize leadership and taking responsibility for all our relationships.
  • I love that we don’t need to put on a mask when we go to church and can be real.
  • I love that we use music to worship God and that we play it loud.
  • I love that we are willing to serve our community in practical ways to meet the needs of people and local organizations.
  • I love that we are willing to partner with other churches and organizations to make a difference in the world around us.
  • I love that we can laugh in church.
  • I love that we can drink coffee in church.
  • I love that we emphasize connecting in small groups and doing life with others.
  • I love that we deal with conflict directly and speak the truth in love to resolve conflicts.
  • I love that we know we don’t have all the answers and are willing to learn from others.
  • I love that people can come and worship God together from all walks of life.
  • I love my church – That Church!


Lessons From Sheep Shearing



I was watching some video’s on how to shear sheep.  It’s pretty interesting, but I’m not ready to give it a try.  If you want to watch click here. The reason I was watching the video’s is that I had heard that sheep have to be sheared before summer or they could actually die from the heat.  So I started researching this to find out more.

The first time a sheep is sheared it puts up quite a fight and I am sure feels like its in danger.  However once they experience what its like after being sheared they are much more cooperative the next time.  They soon discover that without all that wool it’s much cooler and they don’t get sick as easily.  So the next time they sit quietly while the shearing happens, because they know they are not going to be hurt, but helped.

As I was thinking about that I realized that many of us need to be sheared as well.  We have weaknesses that cause us to fail and struggle and overheat/stress out.  We need to have the layers of sin, bad attitudes, hurts and hang-ups cut away.  But when someone tries to do that we fight and kick and are scared or angry.  You see we can’t shear ourselves, we need the help of other people.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  That is the point of accountability, caring enough about another person to respectfully shear away the layers of life.

If you want to be sheared here are three things that must happen:

  1. Take responsibility and admit your weakness – You are the only one that can decide to change or allow someone to shear you.  It takes humility and self-awareness to take this first step, but without doing this nothing will change.  I believe this is only possible with Gods help, by asking him to reveal the things we need to own and shear, and then asking for the courage to take responsibility.
  2. Raise your expectations for yourself – We talk ourselves into and out of a lot of things.  Over the years we tend to lower our standards and accept things we would not have before.  In 1 Peter 1:13-16 it says this “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, ‘I am holy; you be holy.'”  So don’t settle for mediocre, God has a greater purpose and plan for your life.
  3. Find a trusted partner – If you really want to change and be sheared, you will need some trusted friends to help along the way.  Shearing is not a one time thing, it needs to be done over and over again.  It’s the same with us, we need to be held accountable over and over again.  That’s why we all need some people that we can confess too, that we can listen too, that we can talk too.  If you don’t have someone like this in your life start praying and ask God to bring the right people into your life that can be on your shearing team.  Remember after the shearing you will feel so much better, after the confession is great freedom.

The cool thing about this whole process is that when you allow someone else to sharpen you or shear you, you can in turn sharpen and shear them.  That only happens when you you are open and honest.  If you hide your stuff it can’t get sheared.  Happy shearing!


This time of the year is an exciting time as new life springs up with the warmer weather, at least in Ohio.  Easter is also an exciting time for Christians as we celebrate Jesus Christ.  As we prepare for Easter 2014 I thought I would share some thoughts on the significance of what Jesus did that causes us to be celebrating over 2,000 years later.

  1. Jesus died in our place – This is known as substitution, Jesus subbed in for us.  He took our punishment for us.  The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He was made sin for me.” and in 1 Peter 2:24 “He bore my sin in his body on the cross.”  What happened on the cross was personal.  Jesus the perfect, sinless Son of God had your sin put on him.  All the garbage, all the junk and ugliness he assumed it all.
  2. Jesus made us right with God – This is known as justification or in legal terms we were acquitted and found not guilty by God the Judge.  Acts 13:39 says “Through him (Jesus) everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
  3. Jesus made peace with God possible – This is known as reconciliation, which means bringing together two people who have suffered a breakdown in their relationship.  Jesus, by his death on the cross, gave us the opportunity to have our relationship with God healed and renewed.  2 Corinthians 5:19 says “God was in Christ, making peace between our world and himself…God did not hold the world guilty of its sins.  And he gave us this message of peace.”  So Jesus created a new bridge between us and God that had been broken.
  4. Jesus made us a part of God’s family – This is known as adoption, meaning God went through a lot in order to bring us into his family.  He considers us as his own children.  In Romans 8:17 it says “And since we are his children, we will share his treasures-for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too.”
  5. Jesus purchased our salvation with his blood – This is known as redemption, which means being set free.  In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it says this “God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver, as you very well know. But he paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
  6. Jesus satisfied God’s justice – This is known as propitiation which means that Jesus completely satisfied or fulfilled all of God’s righteous demands.  God demands holiness and perfection and Jesus satisfied that demand.  in 1 John 2:2 it says “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world.”
  7. Jesus sent our sins away from us – This means forgiveness.  In Colossians 2:13 it says “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”  God put all of our sins on Jesus, even though he was innocent and pure.  When our sins are put on him, we never see the guilt of them again.  God’s forgiveness is final and complete.

So there you have it, that is what Jesus Christ did for us.  That is why we celebrate so big during Easter, because all of this is amazing, unbelievable, undeserved and completely free.  Salvation is not by works but by grace, it’s not initiated by us but by God and its not an afterthought with God, it is his eternal plan.

Love in Action

liove is action


I’ve been thinking and studying this idea of love.  I have to say that I need to work on this area of my life.  I think most people would say they can do a better job of loving others.  But for most of us we don’t know what that looks like.  I work at a church so what I look to in order to learn and grow is God’s Word.  I was reading this today and it really struck me and challenged me.  I hope it does the same for you.  This is found in Romans 12:9-21 in the New Century Version of the Bible:

9 Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. 11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. 12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. 13 Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.

14 Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.

17 If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. 19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,”[a] says the Lord. 20 But you should do this:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” Proverbs 25:21–22

21 Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.

Just that first sentence, your love must be real is enough for me today.  You can’t fake love.

Love is all about doing and taking action.  It’s about how we think about ourselves, others and God.  The best way we can worship God is by loving others well.


Unexpected Words From God


Last week I attended a Night of Worship at the Dover campus of NewPointe Community Church.  I am a pastor at one of the other campuses, so it was nice for me to just be a regular guy attending and worshiping.  I have to admit I went to see if I could get some ideas on how to make our worship event better the following week.  As I got there and walked in I connected with a few people I know, but was pretty anonymous and slipped into a seat about a third of the way up.  As the music started I sang, prayed and even raised my hands throughout the evening.  I was also critiquing some of what was happening, making note of things I would do differently and things that I liked.

Then God did something unexpected.  I don’t remember the exact time during the service or what song we were singing, but I heard God say “Don’t Eat!”  I have to admit I was a little startled and confused.  I asked God if that was from Him and if I heard him right.  I heard it again “Don’t Eat!”  That same morning in the church service I sat in on at my campus our senior pastor had mentioned the idea of Fasting as a spiritual discipline.  I have fasted before with other people and by myself.  I have given up TV, sports, coffee, food, meat and movies.  Yet this time was different because God was telling me not to eat.

So I didn’t eat any food for the next three days.  Each day I talked to God and when I asked if I could eat I heard “not yet”.  During those three days, I was hungry and even felt some hunger pains.  Yet each time I thought about being hungry I immediately connected with God and talked to Him.  I felt such an inner peace and strength that seemed to get stronger each day.  This three day fast reminded me how much I take food for granted.  I don’t have to wonder where or when my next meal will come from.  I can eat anytime I want and eat anything I want.  Yet I am not all that grateful for what I have.

It’s the same way spiritually.  God is with us all the time, we can talk to him anytime and ask for anything.  Yet too often we take that for granted and only turn to him when things go wrong or we need something.  Those three days of eating reminded me that I need God 24/7.  That when I am connected to him the temptations are less powerful, the way I respond to things is much better and I make better decisions.

Psalm 63:1 says “God you are my God.  I search for you.  I thirst for you like someone in a dry, empty land where there is no water.”  When I read that I had to admit that I do not pursue God like I would pursue water if I had none.  Am I really hungry for God, desperate to know him more and more?

Jesus said this in Mathew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

When push comes to shove, what is most important to me?  What takes priority?

God doesn’t need people to evangelize the earth, do missions projects or give away millions of dollars.  He looks for people who will worship him in spirit and truth.  Not just on Sunday mornings or whenever our day of rest is.  God wants people who will worship him in the way they live.  God made us to worship and every day we worship something.

When I hunger and thirst for God and seek him with all my heart, I get a glimpse of how much he loves me.  As I grow, I understand a little bit better the depth of that love.  God’s love for me never changes, yet as I change and grow, I get a clearer perspective of God, the world around me and the people in it.

That all came as a result of hearing two words from God and then obeying him.  What would happen if we would listen to God all the time and really trust him with everything?  What would happen if we did what he told us to do?  What if we would follow his commands and live our lives fully surrendered to him?

On Thursday morning I woke up and knew I could eat again.  The granola with Almond milk tasted better than ever before.  I was grateful for the food I had in the house and once again my mind turned to God and his provision and care for me.   I had a good day with my wife and got some time to rest and relax.

Then on Saturday something happened that I almost missed.  It’s easy to just write things off as weird or a coincidence. I was bored and was flipping through the television, looking to escape into a movie or something entertaining before the Buckeyes came on that evening.  We all know that there are lots of unwholesome things on television and I can get drawn into movies or shows that have too much sex, violence and bad language in them them.  As I was searching, the smoke detector in the room beside be would beep from time to time.  I thought that was odd, but dismissed it because I figured it just needed new batteries.  I ended up watching a movie that was not the best choice.

I told my wife afterward about the smoke detector and as I was telling her I realized the smoke detector is hard wired and does not use batteries.  It has not beeped since then.  Then it hit me, was God warning me, trying to get my attention and help me avoid temptations.  Then this verse came to my mind in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 

I wish I had that power I felt when I was fasting all the time.  If only I had paid closer attention to that warning, I could have fed my mind with something much better.  I don’t always turn to God even when he is right in front of me.  I guess that is the human side of us, yet God’s love never changes and he sees me as his beloved son even when I miss the way he gives me to escape temptations.

I am excited about what God is doing in me and who he wants me to become.  The more I seek him and hunger after him the more he can use me to impact and influence other people.  The more I listen and pay attention and then obey what he is telling me the more fruitful my life will become.  We are all in process and when we allow God to drive and we trust him amazing things can happen.

Feeling Stuck in Your Faith?



man-stuck-in-box-no-controlOne of the promises in the Bible is found in Joshua 1:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Author Graham Cooke talks about this promise in his booklet called Drawing Close: See God’s Face and be Changed Forever.  He says this:

God likes to hide-in fact He invented the game Hide & Seek.  In certain seasons, He will reveal Himself to us; in others, He will hide from us.  God only hides because He wants to teach us to look for Him.  We all want Him to be manifest in our lives, all the time, but God sometimes wants to hide and draw us deeper into his presence.  If God is hiding from us-but He also promised never to leave nor forsake us-we can extrapolate one thing: God is hiding in plain sight, teaching us to look for Him in a different way.  God is unpredictable but completely consistent.  We always know where we are with God because He never changes, but we seldom know what He’s going to do next.  Go will push us into places where we are not equipped to be.  To survive and flourish there, we have but one choice: Seek God in a place of rest.  Let Him carry us forward.  God hasn’t called us to do the reasonable, the possible or the attainable.  He has called us to do the outrageously impossible.”

That challenged me in a fresh way today as I read it.  When God feels distant and we feel alone, we aren’t.  He is right there in plain site patiently waiting for us to discover Him in a different way.  He is constantly active in our lives, whether He is pushing us into a place we are not equipped to be or patiently waiting for us to open our eyes.

I love the thought that God hides so that we can seek Him and find Him in a fresh way.  To me this speaks of being active in my faith.  Not staying comfortably inside my box but pushing forward through barriers and obstacles.  I love that last line about God not calling us to the reasonable, the possible or the attainable but the outrageously impossible.  It’s only then that we can say Only God could have made that happen.  Those are the times that we grow the most and our faith is increased.

If you are feeling stuck in your faith maybe it’s time to look for God in a different way.  Start praying and asking God to show you that new way and then pay attention and be ready to get out of your box.

Why Church?


Most people have had a negative experience at a church at some point in their lives.  Maybe it was frustration, confusion, rejection, boredom or just irrelevant.  The word church can bring up some bad memories for many people.  For others the church is a mystery because they did not grow up going to church.  It can actually be intimidating and confusing.  Yet the church exists and has for thousands of years.

The purpose of the church is an extension of the purpose of Jesus Christ.  So what is the church?  In order to accurately look at the church, we need to discover what it is not.

  1. The church is not a physical building – The building is simply a place for the church to meet.  It is a place to gather, but the building does not make the church.
  2. The church is not an institution or organization – The church is not a denomination or an affiliation.  Often times people say they go to a Baptist church or a Methodist church.  That may help to describe the over arching beliefs of the people that make up the church, but it is not the church.
  3. The church is not a set of services or activities – The activities we do are simply the vehicle that takes us to a prescribed result.
  4. The church is not just a congregation – A congregation is simply a group of people who gather together.

In the New Testament the word church refers to the universal church, which is all believers on earth.  It also refers to a particular location and the actual gathering of believers in any place for worship.  The word church also refers to the body of Christ, which is an analogy for how the church should function.  So why does the church exist?

  1. Evangelism – That’s a church word that means to tell people about Jesus.  Through the church is how people hear the good news of what Jesus did.
  2. Discipleship – This is simply the process of becoming more like Christ.  It is growing or maturing in faith and spiritual matters.  It is exploring God’s ways and following him as best you can.
  3. Worship – Worship brings the church to life and life to the church.  It is exalting God’s worth and acknowledging him as Lord.  Worship is expressed through singing, music, praying, reading Scripture, baptism, preaching, having healthy relationships, and the way in which you live your life.  It is keeping God first in all you do.
  4. Fellowship – The church must be a place that embraces a culture of encouragement.  People need healthy human relationships.  This is often accomplished through environments like small groups, mentoring, mission trips, social events, and healthy friendships.
  5. Ministry – Everywhere Jesus went, he extended grace and mercy to those who needed it most.  When people serve unselfishly, they become extensions of Jesus.  Ministering to a messed up, broken and bruised world should characterize the life of every followers of Jesus Christ.

The church is made up of people that all are working together to do those 5 things.  When a church creates environments where people can experience those things it allows them to mature as a Christian.  These environments should be designed to help people connect with God and give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to transform the person.  Environments are worship services, youth events, children’s classrooms, adult classrooms and training, mission trips locally and internationally, small group or home group, accountability groups, one-on-one mentoring, and many more.

The local church is the hope of the world.

Dealing With Your Past


As I have interacted with people and worked at understanding them it has become more clear to me that the past is an important part of the actions of today and how people are preparing for the future.  I have heard many people say that you need to forget the past and move on.  That is a dangerous way to approach life.  Whether you like it or not, your past affects your decisions and actions today, and these, in turn, affect the future.  If you do not learn from your past mistakes and hurts, you will most likely repeat them.  There are also lies that you have believed and that have shaped you and what you believe.  Those lies steal your joy and cause you to be afraid.

The junk from your past causes you to react to conflict or difficulties in a certain way.  Everyone has buttons, that when pushed will take them back to those historical moments that feel similar.  When stirred up those lies and fears cause you to react or respond in unhealthy ways.  This behavior is often learned from your parents and other influential people in your life.  Many of the unhealthy responses like withdrawing, defending, attacking, and deflection were ways you could protect yourself when you were little.  Now that you have grown up you are still responding in those ways and it leads to death not life.

So what can you do about the junk from the past, the fears that lurk inside you and pop out when touched?  Major changes begin on the inside where these fears, hurts and hangups live.  Change starts as God works on your attitudes, beliefs, and desires.  When your attitudes, beliefs and desires start to change and line up with what is true, your outward behavior changes and the transformation takes shape.  Philippians 2:13 says “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  This is telling you that God helps you to want to obey him and then gives you the power to do what he wants.  The secret to a changed life is to submit to God and allow him to do the inside work needed to transform the person you are.

So to unload the junk from your past means taking the first step of being reconciled to God.  If you have not taken that step, God will not start the transformation process.  God is at work on every person alive, drawing you to himself, but he never forces the issue, he just keeps it in front of you.  Once you take the step of believing that Jesus Christ was God and man, that he lived a perfect life, that he took all your sin on himself and died for you, that he overcame death and sin by coming back to life in three days and that he is alive today, then you can ask for forgiveness of your sins and be reconciled with God.  Doing that brings the gift of living forever with God in heaven.  It also begins the process of spiritual maturity.

If you have done that and are continuing to live with fears that are controlling your behavior, then start asking God to change you on the inside.  He will continue the process of change on the inside if you ask him. The way in which to do that is to take in God’s word on a regular basis and communicate with God on a regular basis.  Remove the distractions around you and listen to God, then ask for courage to follow through on what he is telling you to do.  One of the best exercises to help get that started is the Steps to Freedom in Christ by Neil Anderson.  Going through those steps is like cleaning up your house.  It brings your focus on God and shines a light on your past and your inside attitudes, beliefs and desires.  Remember that you don’t clean up your house just one time, it is an ongoing discipline.  The good news is that God is doing most of the cleaning when you let him inside and ask for help.

Once you have dealt with the past in the right way you can move on and never have to bring it up again.  These are the words that Moses used to encourage Joshua “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  That is your message today.

Amazing Lessons From Peter

As a leader, I must constantly be working on myself.  Leader’s that stop growing, quickly start declining and losing influence.  A great example of someone growing as a leader is Peter, one of the 12 disciples that followed Jesus.  Focus and self-discipline provide the foundation for solid leadership.  Peter learned this lesson the hard way.  Over a three and a half year period, God transformed Peter from a cocky, loud influence to a thoughtful, humble leader.  As I read in 1 Peter, one of his letter to the Christian Jews, he gives three directives in this area of focus and self-discipline:

  1. Guard Your Mind – Peter reminds us to put boundaries around what we allow into our minds.  What we allow in will influence us and deceive us.  Filling our minds with truth helps us to guard it from the lies that are all around us.  Peter tells us to remain focused and sober.
  2. Guard Your Hearts – He also reminds us that we need to prevent old patterns from penetrating our hearts.  He warns us about the former lusts, which can not only distract us, but can destroy us.
  3. Guard Your Lifestyle – Peter tells us to pursue holiness.  The only way to do that is to follow and embrace the model Christ gave.  Since God is holy, we should copy what we see Him doing.

Peter also talks a good bit about sacrifice and submission.  He tells us to respect and submit to authorities, regardless of how the authorities might treat those they are over.  He reminds us that God places all people in authority for His plans and His purpose.  Peter reminds us in chapter two about the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us.  He suffered greatly and died for us.  Here is how Jesus responded to the insults, mockery, physical beatings, false accusations and carrying all our sin:

  1. Did not retaliate, but kept silent
  2. Made no threats
  3. No deceit came from his mouth
  4. Fully entrusted himself to the Father (God)

Peter also does a nice job of addressing husbands and wives.  No home can thrive without functioning according to sound spiritual leadership principles:

  • First he challenged wives to submit to their husbands, even those who do not submit to Christ.
  • When the wife submits even though she opposes her husbands decision, she gives a powerful witness to Christ and brings a special honor to Him.
  • Husbands are called to live with their wives in an understanding way.
  • Husbands are to honor their wives and model submission and service.
  • Husbands are to initiate blessing, rather than retaliate when things go wrong.
  • Husbands and wives need to assume responsibility for the health of their relationships, which means setting the tone.  To set the tone, they should initiate what they want others to do.
    • Get respect by showing respect
    • Get understanding by being understanding
    • Listen well, trying to understand instead of being understood.
    • Get quality time by giving quality time
    • Hears words of affirmation by giving words of affirmation
    • Get served by first serving
    • Receive unconditional love by first giving unconditional loving

He then talks about spiritual gifts.  Peter encourages us to make five observations about our spiritual gifts:

  1. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift. (1 Peter 4:10)
  2. Spiritual gifts are intended to serve people, not bolster our reputations. (v.10)
  3. We use our gifts as stewards or managers, not owners.  (v.10)
  4. God is the source and the sustainer of every gift. (v. 11)
  5. We are to employ our gifts as though we were serving the Lord. (v. 11)

When we fail to use our gifts properly, we are disobedient, the body of Christ (Church) suffers and God is not glorified.

Peter closes his letter by addressing church leaders and encouraging  them to lead well.  He calls church leaders to:

  1. Be a minister to the people by serving them before being served.
  2. Be a mentor of the people by eagerly investing in people and being a good example.
  3. Be a manager of the people by exercising oversight over those entrusted to your care.
  4. Be a model for the people by demonstrating how to live and love.

Peter encourages us to humble ourselves by casting all our cares on God.  Only then does God promise to exalt us.

I hope these thoughts from Peters letter are helpful in your spiritual growth.  I encourage you to go and read 1 Peter for yourself.  I am sure there are other nuggets of gold that may be just what you need.

Nuggets from James

This morning I spent about a half hour reading through the book of James. What amazing truth and incredible wisdom. It was such a refreshing and challenging time that I thought I would share a few nuggets that really brought some renewed focus to my faith.

  • Compassionate Service – What a Christian does really matters – A good bit of James has to do with our actions.  How we treat other people, the way in which we listen and speak to other people, the way in which we serve other people.  The idea of compassionate service can only happen with a transformed heart.  On our own we tend to do the selfish thing, but when we are plugged into God and filled with His Spirit, we can love people unconditionally.  James reminds us that we are called to serve others.  The measuring stick of our commitment is not our lip service, but our life.  Here are a few principles James teaches us:
  • Selfish motives prevent a servant’s ministry
  • Following rules cannot save us, but following Jesus can
  • A lifestyle that costs nothing is worth nothing
  • A faith that is only in my head is dead
  • A worthless past is resolved by a present that works
  • Careful Speech – What a Christian says matters.  The way in which we speak and the words we use reflect what is inside of us.  The words we use have great power.  James calls it the tongue, and it can dispense both blessing and cursing.  Here are some things James shares with us on this idea of taming the tongue:
  • The tongue is a spiritual meter.  If we can bridle it, we can bridle the whole body.  It becomes the gauge for our maturity.  Our faith will never register higher than our words.
  • The tongue is like a horse’s bit, a ship’s rudder, or kindling wood.  It starts things in motion.  If we control it, we can guide our lives, just as a bit directs a horse and a rudder steers a ship.
  • The tongue is powerful.  Like a huge fire, it can ruin or bless our entire lives.  This power was meant to send us down the rigfht path, not to kill us.
  • The tongue can reveal what sort of wisdom we harbor inside.  A good tongue protects our integrity.  James asks:  Is yours a good guard or a bad one?  Does it create peace or reveal hypocrisy
  • Consistent Growth – How a Christian changes matters.  James calls us to be patient, just like a farmer who patiently waits for his harvest.  The farmer knows that if he picks the corn too early, he will miss out on some of the grain.  It’s the same way with us.  Spiritual growth is a process, not an event.  We grow daily, not in one day.  We are either growing or declining.  Our goal as followers of Christ should be to grow in our faith, in our character development and in our influence with others.  Here are some thoughts about growth:
  • Growth takes work and effort
  • Growth means you have to stretch out of your comfort zone
  • Growth means learning something new or developing a deeper understanding.
  • Growth takes focus, you can’t drift or get distracted.
  • Growth takes accountability, it accelerates when someone is watching.
  • Growth means learning from the past.
  • Growth takes action, practicing what you now know.
  • Growths means gratitude for past blessings from God.