Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is Empathy Enough

As I am preparing for teaching and coaching missionally minded people, I can't get a story Jesus told out of my mind. Jesus is telling those around Him that there will be a time coming where we will give account for our relationship with Him. He tells us that he will separate us from those who think they are following Him and those who actually are following Him. If we truly follow Him it will result in living as he lived. The passage reminds us that the way we view those in our society who are struggle is directly tied to our treatment and attitude toward Jesus...the question that keeps coming to mind is how do we treat them?

37 ... 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' Matthew 25

We as Christians are great at empathizing, feeling bad, for them. We may even pray for them or give our money to care for them. This story cuts straight to the heart of "missional living".

It tells us we have the personal responsibility to feed them, clothe them, house them, care for them when they are sick. When was the last time you did something to go beyond just empathizing for them. Other passages talk about the early church using everything at their disposal including personal items in order to make sure that everyone was taken care of.

Just recently I have come across some people who are taking this passage literally and doing something about it. Let me tell there story.


Most of the world lives on two dollars or less a day. The church has decided to live as most of the world for two weeks. They are eating for two dollars a day. Rather than just empathizing, they are buying and taking groceries to needy families that they know with the extra money they saved from the week.

Check out what this guy is doing in Ohio.

I want to challenge you. What are you doing to live out Jesus teaching. Do you find yourself empathizing? Let me challenge you to do more than just empathize. Get out and live it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MissionSHIFT: Discussion

I was asked to take part in a blog discussion put on by Ed Stetzer of Lifeway. For those who may not know, I am on staff of a church plant. My responsibilities include the “missional” ministries. I am thankful that a discussion is being on missions in the next generation.
In the first essay, Charles Van Engen gives his view of a definition and description of mission. It is as follows
* Contextual: A missional church understands itself as part of a larger context of lost and broken world so loved by God.
*Intentional: A missional church understands itself as existing for the purpose of "following Christ in mission."
*Proclaiming: A missional church understands itself as intentionally sent by God in mission to announce in word and deed the coming of the kingdom of God in Christ.
*Reconciling: A missional church understands itself to be a reconciling and healing presence in its context, locally and globally.
Sanctifying: A missional church understands itself as a faith community gathered around the proclamation (my word) of the Word, thus personally living out its truth and serving as a purifying influence to society.
*Unifying: A missional church understands itself as embracing, enfolding, gathering community of faith, anxious to recieve people into fellowship.
Transforming: A missional church is "the salt of the earth," a transforming presence as the body of Christ in mission called to be, embody, and live out in the world the following biblical concepts of mission, among others: koinonia, kerygma, diakonia, martyria, prophet, priest king, liberator, healer, sage."

I love that in the course of the essay he addresses the core of missional living/missions as having the idea of “sent ones”. The history of missions lends itself to the professionalization of missions. It focuses churches and organization as sending individuals with others supporting b y finances and prayer. This has led to the view that “missions” is something only for a few select.
As I look at missions/missional living I understand that we all who choose to follow Christ are “sent ones. If we apply his definition to this paradigm of all being sent, we can then begin to see missions begin to take off. There will no doubt be those who we send and support, but we must realize that this process does not alleviate us from our responsibility in the process of missions.
This first section has been helpful to me as I continue to struggle with putting together a “missional community” that seeks to live as sent.
Thanks for including us in the discussion Ed. If you would like to join us, pick up the book MissionSHIFT and join.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Investments

The start of this New Year has caused me to reflect more than normal. Reflecting on my past as well as dreaming about our future. This past year has been a difficult year and an exciting year all in the same.
Our year began by leaving a ministry that we believed would change the world. It is always difficult when our dreams and plans don’t occur the way we plan. God used this time to teach us more about Him and that He desires His best for our life.
Shortly after that, we were contacted by Gilbert Thurston to consider coming on staff to help plant a church in Harrisburg PA. After meeting with them, praying and discussing the future with my wife, we are convinced that this is what God has for this season of our life. We love serving with
I have been able to do what brings me joy in ministry, helping people discover their dreams and passions and using them to expand the kingdom of God. It has been fun to meet with other organizations and dream about what a community wide partnership could look like. People have come who truly desire to use their gifts, abilities and resources to make a kingdom difference. It has been fun to watch a community of believers begin to actually do life together for the purpose of the kingdom.
As I ponder the future, I turn 37 in a few days. I realize that I am entering the second half of my life. I ask, how can I make the biggest difference for the kingdom of God? As I thought about this I realized it is about investments. Over the next year and the rest of my life I want to invest myself in…
My kids have the potential to change the world. In each of them I see gifts that God can use to turn this world upside down for the kingdom. I want to invest in helping them reach their potential. I want to coach them and help them turn their passions into reality. Investing in them can change the world.
My wife is one of the most gifted people I know. Her ability to talk with those hurting and love them, her ability to practice hospitality and her ability to sacrifice for the well being of other are traits that I want her to use. I want to learn from her as well as help her become all that God desires her to be.
I want to multiply people. Helping others achieve maximum results in their life as they strive to live for God and his kingdom. I am so thankful for people who have coached me along the way and helped me develop ministry and personal skills. I want to invest in others who strive to change their corner of the world for the kingdom.
I want to help the church big C. I want to take the tools I have gained and help other pastors and ministry leaders become all that they can be. I want to see churches working together effectively and release leadership who will reach a new generation and a different culture in a different way.
Relationships are the foundation to life. I want to continue to develop a forever friendship with God, a relationship where I am willing to give up all to follow Him. Talking about making Him famous is one thing, but living it out in my daily life while I go to where those who need Him live, work and play. I want to develop relationships with people who are far from God. In today’s society relationships need to be built in order to begin the discipleship process. I want to look for opportunities meet and leverage those relationships to bring Christ to them.
I have given up on New Year’s resolutions. I usually give up on them, change them or think of things later that are more pressing or require greater attention. So this year I am choosing not to make promises I can’t keep but rather I will choose to invest wisely.
Investing wisely is more than doing, it is evaluating the outcome. As I build this relationship, am I investing in it for the kingdom? As I pour time and energy into this activity, is it for my benefit or the kingdoms? As I invest financially, is it bringing kingdom results?
In 564,500 minutes, what will your investments return? Will it matter for eternity? I pray that my life will long outlast the minutes I have spent on earth. I am committing to investing my life in a way that will make a difference in expanding God’s kingdom.

Monday, December 27, 2010

FREE STARBUCKS makes an eternal difference

This Christmas our church embarked on a mission of sharing the joy and meaning of Christmas in a practical way. Each day we practiced "random acts of Christmas" with individuals we encounter every week in our daily lives.

On Wednesday we brought smiles to over 100 people on our group "Random Acts of Christmas". We went to the local Starbucks and gave away free tall drinks to everyone that wanted one. You may ask what hot drinks have to do with Christmas. My answer everything.

For years churches have celebrated Christmas by giving the community something many don't care about, another service at their building and that is all. This year we gave them something that they could feel taste and understand. A truly free gift.

Over and over we were asked why we did this, no other church in the area does something like this. We were able to tell them, because we wanted to bring a smile to your face and that God loves when people practice acts of kindness. Does this really make a difference? YES

The next night my wife and I were eating next door and one of the girls who we gave a free coffee to, told us that she went home and told her sister that a church was giving away free Starbucks coffee, they want to check out this "different" kind of church.

Something special happens when we practice kindness without expecting something in return. All too often we expect something in return (come to our church, listen to what I have to say, let me tell you how your wrong). This holiday season let's practice what Christ said, do good works so that Christ can be made famous.

Let your light shine before men so that they can see YOUR GOOD WORKS and glorify your father in heaven

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Random Acts of Christmas

This past Sunday we announced that we will be performing "Random Acts of Christmas". We know that little things make all the difference in the world. Our lead pastor, Gilbert Thurston, has told us over and over that people are looking for three things. These are a smile, kind word and appropriate touch.

We are going to put this into practice not just on Sundays, but for an entire week. Each day the week of Christmas, starting on Monday, we will be emailing, putting on facebook and the church website a simple act of kindness that you can perform that day. I am excited to hear the stories that come out of this.

If you want to be a part, email me at and I will put you on the list. Can you imagine if hundreds of people started concentrating on being Christ in the little things every day? That is just what we want to do. Whether you live in Harrisburg or around the world, be a part this holiday season.

"There are many people who can do big things,
but there are very few people who will do
the small things."

Mother Teresa

Monday, December 13, 2010

Girl on Mission

Several weeks ago my daughter decided she wanted to help people in Harrisburg. We were talking and she decided she wanted to help the situation of the homeless population. Caitlyn decided she was going to make some hats for the homeless. In the cold winters, this is how she could help them in their situation.

This afternoon we went downtown and she saw a homeless man and lady under the bridge. She didn't have her hats but she new they were in the car. She came back to the car and got her hats and we went back to the bridge.

At the bridge we met Bill, George and Linda. We told them that Caitlyn had made the hats and would like to give them one. They were so thankful. As we walked away we noticed something, immediately they put their hats on and were smiling as they were talking. Did she change the course of their life, probably not. Her actions did however provide comfort to someone who needed it.

I am proud of Caitlyn, she brought tears to my eyes...she is being the hands of feet of Christ. Her actions reminded me of quote, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." This quote by Mother Teresa was lived out in Caitlyn's life today. What would happen if each of us did little things every day? Sometimes as we "grow up" we look for the big tasks while forgetting that the little things are what bring smiles and comfort to people every day. When we see people, I hope we look on them with compassion and then immediately are moved to serve.

When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd.
At the sight of them, his heart broke
Mark 6:34 (MSG)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thoughts on Today

Today I had the privledge of teaching at In cased you missed it you can hear it here . I loved the opportunity to talk about ways that I have learned to overcome the unrealistic expectations that I create.

As you go through the holidays, remember:

* Be Thankful - spend some time journaling what you are thankful for...use facebook...use a blog but find some way to share what you are thanful for.

* Make a Difference - look for ways to make a difference in the life of someone this holiday season...we are doing "RANDOM ACTS OF CHRISTMAS"...these will be simple ways that you can make a difference in the life of people you come in contact with everyday...if you want to take part, whether a part of or not, let me know you're email and we will email you daily the week of Christmas with a new assignment,

* Remember the gift of Christmas - turn to Christ and talk with Him about your expectations. Remember the reason for Christmas is restoring the relationship with Him.