Leadership

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Fools

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

This past Sunday I spoke about the verse where Paul says, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” While the fool is not a complimentary term, I went another way with it. I went with the idea that God embraces the ridiculous.

I love to talk about my two daughters. Seldom do I get the chance to brag about them, so today I want to brag about my oldest, Tami. She recently wrote a blog that I want to highlight and ask you to check it out. She says it very succinctly and, if I may brag, very well. I’d like to ask you to read it here.

One of the things I did was change the word fool to the word crazy. I started with this video. With that thought in mind here are some of the crazy people and highlights Tami also mentioned (just in case you didn’t read her post):

Abraham– Obedience is easy when it fits into our plan or our scheme. Abraham was willing to obey even though it was crazy.

Namaan- Sometimes we are asked to take steps of wild obedience where we have no clue where it will end. Stop too soon and we miss out on God’s phenomenal blessings. (Note: Imagine if Namaan had stopped at #6)

Gideon- It doesn’t matter the size of the army or enemy coming against you when God is fighting your battle for you.

Hosea– Though we fail; we are not failures. Though we are unfaithful; God is faithful. Always.

As Christ-followers we are often asked to do bizarre-appearing actions. Some might actually call us crazy. But I’d rather be called crazy for stepping out of the status quo than be bored to tears and bore everyone else along the way.

 

Control

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I suspect many of you have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Next to Back to the Future, it is my favorite trilogy of movies. The central plot focuses on The Ring of Power fashioned by the Dark Lord Sauron. This ring corrupts whoever has it. No matter how good his or her intentions are, the ring’s power eventually corrupts even the purest heart. Enter Frodo. Frodo is given the task of taking the ring to Sauron’s lair to destroy it. We watch throughout the three movies as the ring’s power begins to take over and control Frodo’s every waking and sleeping moment. The finale has Frodo on the precipice of where he needs to throw the ring, and with Sam yelling, “Throw it in Frodo!” we watch as Frodo turns to Sam and says, “No Sam. It’s mine” and puts it on. The power of the ring had taken control of Frodo. It had enslaved him.

Idols are like that. They slowly and subtly take over, often without us even knowing it is happening. Pastor Tim Keller calls an idol a “counterfeit god.” He goes on to call an idol:

Anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give you only what God can give.

In my next post I plan to give 6 examples of idols we face today…many we don’t even realize are idols.

Oh…thanks for hanging in there with me over the past couple of months. I’ll give an update on my accident in the next week or so. But I do thank you for your prayers.

Involvement

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

I interrupted my posts from last week to interject one about Sunday’s sermon.ย  I’d like to finish that series of posts with this one. For the purpose of review you can see the others:

Mission

Vision #1

Vision #2

#3: To be involved in our community.

It is easy-as a church and as individuals-to bury our head in the sand or to put our hands over our eyes and say, “It doesn’t happen here. If so, I don’t want to know.” The church needs to stop hiding behind its walls and stained glass windows (which we don’t have) and get involved. Change won’t happen unless we do. We will bemoan the fact “our town is going to hell in a hand-basket” but really have no right to say that unless or until we do something to stem the tide.

Speaking for OVCF, we have no desire to be one of those churches.

It used to be (and I’m ashamed to admit this) but my world was secluded to the church and church people I was called to shepherd. I did very little, and cared very little, for those outside the church walls. How ugly is that? Then I harped on the people to invite their friends and neighbors. I look back now and say, “Why? Why would I invite anyone to hear me?”

Everything changed when I moved here…gradually. I fell in love with the people of the church first, and by proxy, the town. But then I started making myself available in the community. I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and other ventures. We have an annual Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas breakfast where we serve the community free. I’ve recently taken a deep interest in human trafficking and will be talking to a local judge who is spearheading the task force as to what we can do. Next Sunday, the 6th, OVCF will be partnering with two other churches in the community to do our Day or Service. The church building is a registered Safe Place venue.

I could tell you so much more. Huh, maybe I will in the next post. GET INVOLVED. DON’T HIDE BEHIND WALLS.

Models

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

The other two installments of will bring you more completely up to date and put you in line with this post.

MISSION: TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

VISION #1: WE DESIRE TO BE PASSIONATE PURSUERS OF JESUS.

VISION #2: WE DESIRE TO BE MODELS OF TRUTH AND LOVE

This one can get a little dicey. We have to run a fine line between acceptance of the individual and approval of sin. The church is being slammed hard in this area. You know that as well as I do. We are being asked to compromise biblical values in order to be more inclusive. We are being seen as judgmental or (dare I say it?) homophobic because we take a stand against what we believe to be an unbiblical and unacceptable lifestyle.

The fine line we walk is between compassion and compromise.

Sadly, the church today is known more for what it is against than it stands for. Rather than being a card carrying member of the placard-waving Westwood clan, perhaps we would do well to be known for what we are for.

  • We stand for the acceptance and approval of each person as one who matters to God. (There. Now you know what I think of the Black Lives Matter/White Lives Matter/Hispanic Lives Matter stuff. WE ALL MATTER and are loved by the Heavenly Father).
  • We stand for building a stronger family.
  • We stand for the decrease and abuse of drugs, alcohol and children.
  • We stand for putting in safety measures to stop the easy access to pornography.
  • We stand for young people and helping them get out of human trafficking.

Models of truth and love. Easy to say; not so easy to do. What say you?

Pursuit

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

In my last post, I talked about the Mission of OVCF. You can see that post here. I realize there are all sorts of different explanations for the difference between mission and vision. I have one that I feel comfortable with and use that as a guide.

The Mission is what we do.

The Vision is how we hope/plan to accomplish that mission.

MISSION: TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

The $1000 question is “How can we make that happen?” The following is what was shared Sunday. In order to be cognizant of length, I’m going to do this in three posts.

#1: WE DESIRE TO BE PASSIONATE PURSUERS OF JESUS.

Our #1 goal is not to build a big church. It is not to have a huge nursery or the best youth program. Our first and primary pursuit should be running fully after Jesus. It goes without saying: we cannot lead people where we ourselves are not going or have not been. That would be like taking your child into the forest and telling them to follow a path and then going the opposite direction. Makes no sense.

Paul knew this principle. In Philippians 3:10 he wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” The word know is the word which means “intimate knowledge.” In other words, Paul was drawing a line in the sand between a head knowledge and a heart knowledge. There are tons of people who know a lot about Jesus, the Bible and other teachings. The atheist knows the Bible and knows the teachings of Jesus! But it is head knowledge. We need heart knowledge.

A passionate pursuer of Jesus desires to have a heart knowledge, one full to the brim and running over. Are you one?

ID

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

If you look into the right margin of the blog, you will see an icon with RoadID. If you click on it, it will take you to a website of well…RoadID. RoadID is a series of products designed to tell people who you are in case of an accident. I wear three. The Slim ID. The FIXX ID.ย  And the Sport ID. I wear the Slim 24/7. The other two I wear when I am cycling. The motto of Road ID is Its Who We Are. In case of an emergency it is designed to let them know your name, age, contact person, any medical alerts, doctor (in my case) and a saying (Live the Adventure). You can actually design one however you want.

My message during the 12th Anniversary of the church was just that: It’s Who We Are. I also involved Ryan so he could give his thoughts from a youth-oriented perspective.

I started with this quote:

Without vision, there is rarely direction. Without direction, there are no goals. And without goals, there is not progress.

Our goal- our Mission- is simple and straightforward:

TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

We get our cue from Jesus who said, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”ย  He also said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinner to repentance.” We get our cue from Matthew 28:19-20.

To my way of thinking: it is sort of hard to mess that up.

Calling

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

I know Kevin Costner is not everyone’s favorite actor. He’s not mine but he is one of my favorites. I loved his 2006 movie The Guardian. It was about a high school swim champ with a troubled past who enrolls in the Coast Guard’s “A” school where Costner’s character, Ben Randall, is an instructor with a nagging injury that came as a result of hanging on to another rescuer. I wrote the following quote down awhile back. I thought it applied well to Labor Day.

If by some miracle you actually have what it takes to become one of us, then you get to live a life of meager pay with the distinct possibility of dying slow, cold, and alone somewhere in the vast sea. However, you also get the chance to save lives and there is no greater calling in the world than that.

We all have a calling. Some seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But none are. It does not matter what you do, do it well. “For each the real purpose for us being here is personal and passionate: to know what we are here to do, and why.” (Os Guinness- The Calling-page 3)

I hope you know why you are here. We celebrate Labor Day. Do what you are called to do…and do it well.

Lions

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Product Details

I do not know what it is like to lose a daughter. I have never experienced the horror that Levi and his wife, Jennie, went through a few short days before Christmas in 2012. After finishing his Christmas sermon (which he would preach 9 times) on a Thursday, Levi and family planned a Friday Family Day. Thursday night their five-year old Lenya suffered an asthma attack which took her life. I simply cannot imagine what it would be like to have that happen and STILL preach those services. To preach those services with the medical personnel and EMS people in attendance because they “saw” something in the trauma that night (Levi also followed his wife’s prompting to invite them).

This book is part of autobiographical as he details their emotions. It also part “here are the lessons we are learning.” What it is NOT is a pie-in-the-sky-everything-is-hunky-dory- book. If you are looking for that go to the health/wealth garbage of you-know-who. If you get disappointed because “men of the cloth” are normal, cry, get angry, and question events, then you won’t to read this either.

Levi does none of that. He is honest. He is vulnerable. He is a daddy who still misses his daughter. He is a daddy who still visits her graveside. But he is also a daddy who has had to move on…and as he has moved on he is taking the lessons he has learned and is still learning and leaving them with his readers. And I’m convinced the way God has blessed his ministry in Montana and elsewhere is testimony to his ability to trust God through this most difficult time.

I plan to use a soon-to-be-published post to share some of the wisdom/thoughts from the book. But until that happens…I cannot tell you how quickly you need to go out and get this book! Did I say…like yesterday? You will cry. You will chuckle. You will underline. YOU WILL LEARN how to handle tough times.

By the way: have you ordered or bought it yet? ๐Ÿ™‚

Volunteers

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Every non-profit (and some for profits) needs volunteers. In fact, I think it can be safely said that many non-profits would not last if were not for volunteers. Our local theater has one paid employee. Everything else is run by volunteers (concessions, ticketย  booth, media, etc).

Most food kitchens and shelters and organizations which reach out to others are largely run by volunteers.

Churches are no different. We would not survive if it were not for volunteers.

For the past three years, Diana (our church secretary), Ryan (our youth pastor), and I have said “thank you” to our volunteers by having a Volunteer Dinner. We have done several different things over the years as entertainment but the one thing we have not changed is the purpose: it is our way of saying thanks to everyone who has volunteered over the past year.

Carried a chair? Volunteered.

Taught a class? Volunteered.

Played or sang on the worship team? Volunteered.

This year we have approximately 70 who have signed up to come. We will have a buffet/catered meal for them. (I draw the line at cooking!) ๐Ÿ™‚ We will have give-aways. We will have entertainment. We will have lots of fun. But most of all, I love making the rounds and thanking everyone for their service this past year. It is a tiring evening by the time we have set up and torn down, planned and executed, but it is well worth it.

To all of you OVCF-ers who read this: Thanks from the bottom of my heart for a job well done and for making a difference in our lives and in this community. See you tonight!!

What does your church do to say thanks? I’m all in for new and fresher ideas I can implement.

Stunned

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

I should be working on a sermon. I really should. True…I do work ahead so I’m okay with that. No panic. But it is my Easter sermon.

H-O-W-E-V-E-R

Something happened last night which stunned me. I just have to tell you about it.

First, some history for those who may not know. I started here in November of 2005. The church was started in October of 2004 and although I did not plant the church, I have told people I feel like I have. ๐Ÿ™‚ We rented a facility which was dirty and grungy until the Fall of 2010 when we purchased an abandoned Mormon church building. In January of 2010 I found out we were the victim of financial misdealings. (That book was closed last year for good when we offered forgiveness and erasing of the debt). In the summer of 2012 we remodeled the inside of our building and paid cash for it. It was apparent fairly soon after that we were needing to go to two services. Then we began talking expansion with no debt. But a twist came when I approached the leadership and Building Team with a discomfort because that expansion did not include any additional room for our youth. So we switched gears and for the past year or so have been planning & saving for the addition. We are hoping it happens this summer.

Now for last night.

We had a leadership meeting and we had already been announcing that we were taking up a special offering on Easter to benefit the Building Fund. Last night I proposed we take the whole Easter offering and put it toward the building.

I got trumped! (No not him…please).

One of the elders suggested we take the offering and not use it for ourselves at all.

HE SUGGESTED WE GIVE IT AWAY!!!

All of it, except that which is designated. (IRS laws say you can’t use designated monies for anything but what it is designated for). That means we will be able to bless every mission we support with a special gift!

Here’s the (great) thing: it never even crossed my mind! Not so great it didn’t cross my mind. ๐Ÿ™‚ But super great that someone else thought of it. Funny thing is: the only discussion is what missions can we support-locally and foreign. No kickback. No “we can’t do that!”

I love being stunned. And humbled. And blown away. And I was never so proud of the 6 guys who sat in that room last night than I was at that moment.

Now…I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with that offering, its distribution, and its eternal reward for lives being changed. Oh yeah…one more thing: is there any wonder why I love being the pastor of this church so much?