Church Change Category

 

November 8th, 2012

Asleep in the Light

 

I believe the biggest obstacle to the church fulfilling the mission God has given us…is not on the outside…but on the inside. Too many believers are asleep in the light.

And, the real problem here…is that they’re asleep but don’t know it. They look awake but they’re not…they’re sleep walking. And, the simple reality is that it’s impossible to “Wake the World Up to Jesus”…to wake a family member or coworker up to Jesus when we’re asleep ourselves.

If you don’t buy this from me, how about from Jesus? Revelation 3:1-2 – “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up!”

Are you awake or asleep spiritually? Don’t answer too quickly. You can look awake, believe you’re awake, and others can think you’re awake. You can have the reputation of being alive. And yet, you can still be asleep in the light.

If you would rather not know…Er…I mean…you’d rather keep sleeping…stop reading here. Otherwise, bravely read on and ask yourself these questions?

-Is my relationship with Jesus…my spiritual life…more a weekend thing than an everyday of the week thing? Does church define my experience with Christ more than Christ defines my life experience?

-Have I experienced much authentic change in my life recently? (Realize: you can’t experience Jesus and remain unchanged. It’s impossible. But, you can talk about Him and remain unchanged.) Have I been experiencing Jesus or just talking about Him?

-Am I living spiritually unnoticed…do people know I’m a Christ-follower…do people notice anything different about my life in contrast with those who don’t know Christ?

-Do I genuinely know the spiritual condition of people in my world…or is their spiritual condition a mystery to me?

If any of these hit home, you’re not alone. We all struggle in these ways. When it comes to our spiritual lives, we all have the potential for a sleep disorder. But, it’s time to wake up. The world needs Jesus, but, if we’re asleep in the light, we have no chance of waking them up to Him.

My prayer is that God will use this post as an alarm clock in many of our lives.

 

March 31st, 2012

“Wow!”

 
 
 

March 21st, 2012

Boredom

 

Boredom is a huge…potentially dangerous problem for all of us…in every area of our lives. Yes, even in our spiritual lives. I had opportunity to write on “boredom” in my regular column, “Leading Change”, in Outreach Magazine. It was in response to a question relating to church becoming boring. However, I really do think that the principles and practices I give for overcoming it can apply to all of our spiritual lives…to every part of our lives.

If you’re interested in reading it, Outreach Magazine just posted it on their website. Here’s the link: ow.ly/1ISEZv .

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is boredom something you deal with? Do the ideas I share make sense to you…sound helpful? Have you come up with other ways of making sure that boredom doesn’t defeat you?

Remember, Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Do whatever you can to keep your joy and stay strong.

 
 
 

I love communion…which is a long way from how I used to feel about the celebration of the bread and the cup. To be honest, in the early days of my faith, there was no way that I would have put the words “celebration” and “communion” in the same sentence. The way I experienced it was BORING!

But, it wasn’t meant to be and it doesn’t have to be. According to Jesus Himself, it’s intended to inspire…to inspire us to remember.

As a pastor, I’ve taken this seriously. We don’t approach communion as a throw away…as an unconnected tack on to our already full weekend services. On the contrary, when we celebrate communion, it is the point, the entire focus of the service. And, we don’t just mindlessly repeat the same service over and over and over again. We’re trying to wake people up to the vital reality and life defining importance of Christ in their lives. We’re not trying to dull them spiritually through mind numbing redundancy. We’re trying to sharpen them spiritually by taking them deeper in their understanding and experience of the power of the cross…of Christ’s sacrifice for them.

We do this by focusing the entire communion celebration on different aspects of Christ and what He did for us…can do in us…if we genuinely depend on Him. We do this by seeking to build on what Jesus did in giving us the bread and the cup…we attempt to use tangible things to bring to life the intangible. We’ve given people post-its to write their burdens on and then encouraged them to let go of them as they stuck them to the wall. (What a beautiful site…church walls full of burdens representing people free of them.) We’ve given nails to pound into the cross; party favors to remember their victory in Christ; cheap little erasable slates for them to write their sin on and see it disappear; etc. As the above video shows, this week we used suitcases to picture the baggage we carry in life…the baggage that, in Jesus, we no longer have to carry. (You can watch the full talk here: http://ow.ly/8IjZx)

We want to invest the creativity God has given us to inspire people to remember…Jesus died to set them free!

So…if you’re a part of NorthRidge, I encourage you to make our New Life Communion services a “not to miss” part of your life. If you’re a pastor, I encourage you to take a new look at and new approach to how you lead out communion in your spiritual family. If you’re a believer, remember…there’s nothing in all the world more worthy of celebrating than Jesus…and what He’s done for…and wants to do in you. Celebrate Him today by living for Him.

I’d love it if you shared some of your thoughts on or experiences with communion.

 

February 17th, 2011

Sinlicious

 

I gave a talk last night at NorthRidge that is creating more chatter than normal…in the social media world…but also in me. I actually woke up still thinking about it this morning. I really do believe it’s a huge deal for believers that, unfortunately, is being missed.

Sin is the great enemy of life. (By sin, I’m not talking of petty little preferences that some believers and pastors try to make a sin. I’m talking about sin…declaring independence from God; rebelling against Him by pursuing our desires over His; disobedience to His clearly expressed truth and will.) Of course, most believers have this idea down…at least in their head. Checkout Romans 6:23 if you’re wrestling with the truth of this idea. In John 8:34, Jesus made it clear that it was the slave master for all of us.

However, though sin is the great enemy keeping us from experiencing the freedom and fulfillment that Christ purchased for us, we don’t treat it this way. If we’re honest, we trivialize it…even flirt with it…as if it’s not all that serious.

A good example of this is found in the fact that the most common use of the word is in relation to food…especially desserts. You know…this dessert is “sinfully delicious” or simply…”sinlicious.” Though seemingly innocuous, I believe that it’s a clear picture of our mindset towards sin. We tend to see it, like a great dessert, as something we shouldn’t do, but we wish we could…because God, like a weight watchers consultant, is robbing us of the best parts of life. (Of course, this isn’t new. Remember Eve looking at the “tree” thinking how “good” it looked?!) We really do tend to view sin as something, while not all that good for us…not all that bad either. After all, if we gain a couple of pounds, we can always lose them. Right?!

This attitude is killing us. It’s keeping us from the freedom and fulfillment that Christ came to give us, (John 8:32, 36 & 10:10). If we’re going to “stand firm” in our freedom, we must see sin for what it is…the great enemy of everything we desire in life…of everything Jesus came to give us.

Here are some recommendations that I’m working through in my life. If I want to experience life as God has designed it for me, then I must…

  • Hate sin…as much as I would cancer ravaging my body or the body of someone I love. After all, it’s a cancer that is destroying peoples lives both now and forever. (Psalm 97:10)
  • Fear sin…knowing that, unlike a sinlicious dessert, it is able to control, enslave, and destroy me. It can rob me of everything God desires for me. (Mark 9:42-48) (Note: since sin stems from the heart, Jesus isn’t teaching that cutting off a limb can keep us from sinning. He is clearly teaching that we should fear it so much that we will take drastic measures to cut it out of our lives.)
  • Understand we can overcome it…we’re dead to it. (Romans 6:2,11-14) Jesus said that He sets us free from the master of sin. We need to believe Him. When we allow Jesus to own and control us…sin no longer can.
  • Commit to overcoming it. (Daniel 1:8)

Helpful hints: Admit you have the tendency to trivialize it; Claim your power over it (John 8:36); Flee it (2 Tim.2:22 – when you know an area of weakness…stay away from it); fill-up on God’s Word (Ps119:9,11); and live in total submission to and reliance on God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

Too many “sinlicious” desserts certainly isn’t good for you. But, sin is certain death. Let’s see it for what it is and stand firm in our Jesus bought freedom, (Galatians 5:1)

 

October 16th, 2010

20 Years

 

Though I look forward far better and more often than backward, passing my 20 year mark as Pastor of NorthRidge has forced me to look back a little. As I do, I’m in awe…that it’s really been 20 years; that our church family is where it is today…more on mission than ever; that God has used NorthRidge to impact so many lives; and, above all, that God chose (and is still choosing) to use me. Unbelievable.

After all these years, you’d think that I had a handle on leading NorthRidge. You’d be wrong. Quite frankly, when I start thinking that I’m getting a handle on how to play this game, the game changes. My life and leadership, to the extent I’ve accomplished anything of eternal significance, has truly been an exercise of faith. As with Peter on the water, each step that I’ve taken has had the potential to be the last…apart from one thing…God’s power and promise to guide, empower, use, and sustain me.

Sadly, like Peter, I’ve done a lot of sinking and screaming for Jesus to save me. However, He’s always been faithful. He has done what He promised over the past 20 years. He’s built His Church. I’ve just had the privilege to be along for the ride. I’m so thankful He kept me from doing something stupid…like quitting, being lured away by some brighter opportunity, or surrendering to the pull of darkness which exists in all of us.

Here’s my encouragement to you: “…Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

One other vital word…no pastor or leader stands alone. Though I’m certainly the public face, my ministry would never have been possible apart from my precious, talented, committed, and unbelievably supportive and involved wife. Yes, as is true with all ministry spouses, my ministry would have never gotten off the ground without her personal support. However, unlike many ministries, my ministry is now and always has been the result of a partnership with Roxann that is nothing short of amazing. She has, in truth, always stepped in to fill my weaknesses and to make up for my shortfalls. She has added depth and breadth to me and my ministry that is impossible to explain but is important to know. She could have done many things, but she chose to stand and invest with me. Brad Powell and NorthRidge Church would not be what we are without her. So, as I think about the last 20 years of ministry, there are very few frames that don’t include Roxann in one way or another. I owe her. I’m grateful for her. And, I love her. Thanks Rox.

I want to thank our NorthRidge team for putting together my 20 year celebration video…that certainly puts it in perspective.

 

October 4th, 2010

Make Other People Better

 

After spending time reflecting on Philippians 2:3-5, I wrote the following to help me clarify what I am (or should be) striving for in my life and leadership. I have since put it in my prayer journal in order to help properly focus the motivation and direction of my prayers.

My purpose in life is not to be the best I can be in order to be better than other people. It’s to be the best I can be in order to help make other people better. I want to make better everyone who knows me.

Ministry is not about my success or me.  I don’t want to be the greatest of all time.  I just want to be used to the fullest of my potential for God’s glory.  I want to fulfill my potential for Him.  I want to become everything that God wants me to become.

The reality is that none of us are here to live for ourselves.  Therefore, when we live for ourselves, we never find ourselves or the joy and fulfillment that comes with it.  However, when we fulfill our purpose in living for others, we do find ourselves.

So…what does this look like in your context?