Sunday, April 26, 2009

Everything is spiritual.

Words cannot describe the kind of week I have had. It has been a week of extremes.

Joy and sadness. Exhileration and despair. Good news and horrible news. Confrontation and avoidance. Progress and regression.

All of this occurred while adjusting to 3 children and striking that fine balance between work and home. Some weeks are just crazy! Looking back on what I've been through this week reminds me even more that I am engaged in spiritual warfare. My tendency is to get caught up in the urgency of the immediate...solving the problems, fixing stuff, when in reality the surface problems are just fronts for the real spiritual battles behind the scenes.

Paul reminded us of our real war in Ephesians 6:10-13 when he wrote: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Everything is spiritual. The physical world in which we live is just a facade of the superstructure of spiritual activity around us. It is very easy to look at everything through physical eyes...when someone hurts you....or when things don't go as you planned....or (as what really happened to me at 11:30 last night) your laptop dies just as you are finishing your Sunday message manuscript and you have to start over again. When this happens, I take a deep breath, say a prayer, and remind myself that my battle is not with people, calendars, personal agendas, or computers. My battle is against Satan himself. Satan hates me and my work. He hates my church. He hates the fact that I have a great life and that I love my family. He so desperately wants to subvert the work of God in my life that he will do whatever he can to distract me and throw me off course.

Satan has this crazy way of orchestrating things to happen around us that affect us without us ever giving him credit. He wants you to get mad at people, and agendas, and computers. He wants you to get so wrapped up in the surface world that the spiritual realm never enters your mind. So remember, the next time something's not just physical. Consider the devil and his schemes...and stand your ground. Remember that greater is the force within you than that which is in the world! (I John 4:4)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I've been thinking alot about change lately. Our family has really changed over the past few weeks with the new addition. Our family has had to make major adjustments to accomodate our sweet Baby Brooke. We hope to bring her to church this prepared to get a squirt of hand sanitizer before you touch her, though. She's fragile and it's still "sick season."

Our church is also changing and adjusting, which has been a fun ride. It seems that "change" is in the DNA of Good Hope. I'm very thankful for the previous pastor who ushered in new changes way before I got here. He helped to establish a culture of change. The expectation of our people is that we can't be happy where we are. Many churches resist change as if it were inherently evil. Most of it stems from the fear of the unknown. After all, change brings about different results than what has always happened. Those results might be good and they might be bad..but they are unpredictable at first. This unpredictability scares people. Ironically, most change brings with it a new set of problems with which to deal.
This brings to light a question: Why do you change?
I'm glad you asked it. :) You must change in order to solve problems. If you have problems and you don't make adjustments, then you will perpetuate those problems. There are many churches who have problems, but refuse to make the necessary changes that will solve those problems. The answer, for many of them, is to work harder at the things they've always done or to get new people to lead the things they've always done. The answer is usually not in effort or personnel. The answer is usually in "how" you do things. "How" is always a harder issue to tackle than effort and personnel. I've heard someone say that the definition of insanity is doing what you've always done and expecting different results. I never want to get caught up in the trap of perpetuating ineffective things just because we've always done them that way.
Here are 4 thoughts about changes in church life that I came up with the other day:

1) As a Church, we can never feel that we have arrived.
The minute we get comfortable and rest is the minute we start to die. It’s called atrophy.

2) As a Church, we can never feel we have a handle on how to “do church.”
The minute we stop being innovative is the minute we start to become irrelevant.

3) As a Church, we cannot do what we’ve always done and expect different results.
The minute we do something because “we’ve always done it that way” is the minute we start creating idols out of our traditions.

4) Change is not easy, but it is necessary to grow.
The minute we refrain from changing because of what it might cost us is the minute we start turning inward instead of facing outward.

What needs to change in your life? In your family? In your church? The other options with change is to resist the solutions or to ignore the problems. That's the choice we all have to make.

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Additions to the Family...

We are scheduled to induce the birth tomorrow morning starting at 5am. I am excited! As I type this blog, "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman is playing and I'm getting teary-eyed. Brooke hasn't even been born yet and I love her so much. The anticipation level is high at our house...and the ANXIETY. Anna Beth announced today that she did not want another sister. She didn't say this with a nice tone of voice either! When asked what we should do with the new baby when she comes, Anna Beth promptly told us to "give her to another family!"

It's tough for children to adjust to a new baby in the house. There are still only 2 parents, but the number of ones requiring added attention increases. The end result is what my friend Steve calls going from "playing man-to-man" to "playing zone coverage" around the house. I think children sense that they will get less attention than before and are scared.

There's an analogy here as to how many church people respond to new growth and new faces. Some people feel threatened by new people coming to their church. New additions require extra resources. Staff end up running zone instead of man-to-man in taking care of people. New babies are tough. They require more time, energy, and attention than mature children. New babies spit up and poop everywhere 24-7. They might even get more attention from the leadership than the people who have been there a really long time.

But aren't new additions fun?! People gloat over them and pinch their cheeks and take pictures with them. Don't you wish the church would feel the same way over new additions at church?! I mean, they can't do a thing on their own but we stumble over ourselves trying to take care of them, making sure their needs are met. I'm thankful that most of the people at Good Hope have the right perspective about new people. They are really excited about where we are going. Let's just keep the right perspective as new people join us! Let's gloat over new additions to our family. Remember, the most important people at Good Hope are those who are not there yet!