UNAWARE LEADERSHIP

UNAWAREThis past week we conducted our annual LEADership Conference.  It is an annual gathering of all of our ministry staff and volunteers for a time of vision, strategy, and leadership development.  I wanted to share something unique that I implemented in this year’s conference that I believe was the single greatest decision that I have probably made yet in ministry.  If you’ve already done this, well then, you’re just awesome already.  But if not, I’m telling you, it was challenging, inspiring, but most of all it was enlightening and informative! Continue reading

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#IamAChristian

#iamachristianI awoke this morning to read an article from The Washington Post about a monument of the Ten Commandments in Oklahoma, that was quietly removed over night after being declared by a court as a violation of the state constitution on the use of public property to support “any sect, church, denomination or system of religion.”  I’ve seen other articles like this.  Even here in Florida there have been similar battles for remove Ten Commandment monuments.

But as I read this article, I began to think about the obvious increase in open hostility toward Christianity in America.   Continue reading

Fighting Fundamentalist

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(It has been quite a while since I have written a post and I don’t know that I would even consider this a real post. I did some required reading today in a seminary course and had to write a post in a discussion board on historic fundamentalism.  This is that post.  It is a brief, unedited, response to a question from my professor, Dr. Hartog. It is only meant to inform and encourage, not strike up a debate.)

The subject line I used is what most people think of today, when they speak of fundamentalist.  A group of narrow-minded preachers/churches who love a good fight over preferential standards and traditions that they now call “the old-time religion”.  I am being a little facetious, of course, but you get the general idea.

Early fundamentalism was relegated as a defense of historical Christianity against the liberalism of German higher criticism and other new enemies of Christianity. It articulated the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth, the atoning death, the bodily resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ as the indispensables of the faith.  If I were a leader in that day, I would have no doubt joined the good fight of faith that Christianity was waging.  Certainly, textual criticism has done its damage and we know the effects that Darwinian evolution has produced upon our society.

I would gladly own the title “fundamentalist” from this historical position.   Continue reading

Fulfilling ALL of the Great Commission

DECLARE.DISCIPLE.DO 040714What do you think of when you hear the word Christian?   How about the word disciple?  Do you immediately conjure up images of Bible characters on a flannel graph or a Bible story book?  Do you think of impatient Peter, or maybe the beloved John?  What does it mean to be a disciple or to be discipled?  Do you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that

Jesus summons men to follow him not as a teacher or as a pattern of the good life, but as the Son of God.  He alone matters. Discipleship means adherence to Christ, and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship. (1)

Discipleship is at the very core of New Testament Christianity, yet its fulfillment within the context of the local church has failed in the twenty-first century. Why? Many churches simply ignore it.  It’s laborious. It’s time consuming. It’s takes energy, strategy, and sacrifice. Therefore many ministries just aren’t committed to making disciples.   Continue reading

A FEW THOUGHTS ON MY 43RD BIRTHDAY!

DSC_0165On my 43rd birthday, I thought I would take a few moments and thank God and my family for a wonderful 42nd year as it draws to a close.  This has truly been a remarkable year on many accounts, and I would be remiss to take it for granted.

God has blessed me with many victories over the years, but this past year was especially notable, so I thought I would articulate some of these blessings today.

  1. LOSING 46 LBS.-  Probably the most important goal this past year was finally coming to grips with my long term health and FINALLY deciding to do something about it. My wife, VIcki, has always been a perfect picture of health and has always encouraged me to do likewise.  It wasn’t hard to stay in shape while I was in the Air Force, but over the last 15 years since I went into ministry, I had become very sedentary in my lifestyle, making excuses as we all do at times.  Last June I embarked, not on a diet, but a lifestyle change. Since then I have lost the 46 lbs. and also competed in many obstacle course races, including Tough Mudder and Spartan.  I have maintained my health and will continue competing.
  2. OBTAINING MY DEGREE–  One of my greatest desires for the last five years has been the completion of my undergraduate degree.  I never had the opportunity to attend Bible college full time as a student, so I had to complete it while also pastoring. This past May I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies and am now doing graduate work toward my MABS and ultimately the Ph. D through Piedmont International University.
  3. FAMILY MILESTONES–  Our oldest daughter, Alexis, graduated two years ago, and headed off to West Coast Baptist College.  This past May our youngest, Hannah, also graduated.  She too will attend West Coast Baptist College in the Fall.  Vicki and I will be “empty-nesters”.  That’s weird…but cool!  I am proud of both of our girls.  They both love God and have honored their parents all of their lives.  I couldn’t ask for more!
  4. MINISTRY MILESTONES–  Aside from the general blessings of ministry,the awesome friendships, seeing people saved and lives changed, our ministry here at Grace these past four years has been nothing short of miraculous.  As I often say, “God is writing a story of Grace.”  It is amazing to consider where things were at  when we first walked through the doors four years ago.  God is raising up a dynamic, multicultural, Gospel-centered church that is having a wonderful impact in our community.  Slowly, but surely, God is fulfilling the vision that He has given me for Tampa Bay!  We have a bright future by the grace of God!

These are just a few of the blessings from this past year for which I am thankful!  This past year has truly been amazing, but I really believe that God is just getting started in so many ways.  I look forward to what God will do in the year ahead.  With prayer, my Love (Vicki), a cup of Dunkin Donuts, and the grace of God, it’s going to be awesome!

 

 

 

NOT BY CONSTRAINT (FOR PASTORS)

Equilibrist businessmanHave you ever had the feeling sometimes that ministry is like walking a tight rope?  I know I have-especially in those early days of pastoring when I had so little experience, and a whole lot of zeal.  There are so many complexities when working with people who are carrying burdens or stuck in the mire of sin.  Leading has many challenges, and if we are not careful, Continue reading

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014Dear Grace Family:

From my family to yours, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that you have had a blessed Christmas season with family and friends. What a great way to end the year 2013!  It’s hard to believe that another year has past.  Just today I saw a poll that said, only 18% of Americans said that they had a “good” year.  No doubt many of you have faced some of the greatest trials of your life this past year. But it is also in those trials Continue reading