Tuesday, September 29, 2009


How do I know it's God's voice...

It is one of the most vexing questions of the life lived in submission to the will of God: how do I know the will of God? When I have to make a decision, when I have that nagging urge to speak to someone, when I have that uneasy feeling in my stomach, when I feel like God is leading me in a certain direction, when I have a dream, when a sermon convicts me to take action. How do I decide what to do? What is God saying to me? What is the Spirit leading me to do?

Our campus ministry at SH has spent a lot of time recently on this. This is a real and difficult question for university students. I preached recently about this at HIP. Both my children and their spouses are wrestling with major decisions and they want to be sure they are submitting to the will of God. Marsha and I are constantly facing decisions in which we want to hear God's voice.

So here are five things to help know the will of God. I know there may be lots others, but here are five.

1. Filter it thru Scripture. God is not going to contradict Himself. As the Hebrew writer said, The Bible is living and active. It speaks to us today.

2. Run it by the community of faith. What do spiritual people you respect have to say about it? Listen to them. Even if you don't like the answer. Trust their affirmation. Or give credence to their concerns.

3. Ask for wisdom. Read James.

4. Ask God for a sign. That's one of the great lessons from the story of Gideon.

5. Trust the Holy Spirit to stop you. Read Acts 16: 6-10. If things continue to not work out... that may be the Holy Spirit.

6. Watch for the open doors. The Ethiopian conversion in Acts 8 was an open door opportunity.

Using these filters to help see God's will is how I have ended up at Herald of Truth, how I became an elder at Southern Hills, how I got my dog and my truck, and why we are still in the same house.

I look forward to your stories, input, and other ideas.

Friday, September 25, 2009


You Don't Trust Me...

As in any large church, and I guess those not so large as well, our elders sometimes do not agree on every decision. The disagreements are rarely over principles. We all agree that we are pastors and overseers. We all agree that we want to share our story with our world. But it is natural and inevitable that we will sometimes disagree over programs or plans. Sometimes our ministry staff does not agree on everything. And, of course, sometimes elders and ministers will disagree.

When these differences of opinions occur, at some point someone will say "You just don't trust us/me". My initial response has always been to insist that having a difference of opinion has nothing to do with trust. But it has occurred to me that "trust" might mean different things to different people.

I tend to think that to not trust someone means I have doubts about their intentions, their character, or their heart. Or that I think they are hypocritical or duplicitous (big word, huh). So by my definition, just because I disagree with some proposal or course of action has nothing to do with trust. I cannot fathom working with an elder or minister that I did not trust in this sense.

It could be that trust is used in the sense of confidence -- that disagreement means that you do not trust my judgment or my expertise. It is as if it is personal. So if I am to trust anyone to always be correct and to make the right decision about every situation.. then I guess I don't trust anyone, not even myself. I like to think I am always right, but time has proven that to be incorrect. I do believe I have good judgment and I think that has been proven over time. But everyone does not always agree with me on everything. I don't think that is a trust issue.

No one gets it right every time. Not any elder. Not any preacher. Not any man. Or woman. So when leadership makes decisions, and it is not the way you would have done it -- don't take it personally. It is not about trust. It is not a condemnation of your judgment or capabilities. Or mine. And believe me, I have been outvoted many times. Sometimes my position was proven right over time. And sometimes my vote proved to be wrong. I have used persuasion to move others to support my position. Many times I have been so glad I did. Occasionally I have regretted it.

So don't take things personally. Don't get negative. Extend grace. Trust the other leaders. Admit you can be wrong. Believe God works among His people. And "trust" me on this -- the church will survive. It is so much bigger and more powerful than me. Or you. And aren't we all glad.

Your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Yes I did have a birthday...

Yep I did. I am another year older -- 58 to be exact. I know I don't look it. I look more like 68, but that's another story. I have noticed that as I get older everyone asks for my take on birthdays. So here are my reflections on birthdays.

I am thankful God gave me another year. I am not guaranteed long life. And it's really OK if I die tomorrow. Of course I enjoy life with Marsha. And I love being Pops to my grandkids, but God is in charge of my life... not me. So I try to live as if each year is my last.

So I want to be productive with the time I have left. Odds are that most of my days are behind me. So I really want to be about kingdom business.

I don't feel old. I don't "think" old. I just do not focus on what the calendar says about me. Never have. And I doubt I ever will. Too much life to be lived to worry about getting old.

Watching your adult children lead productive, faithful lives is incredibly rewarding.

My grandkids really are a blessing.

The older I get, the more I realize that there are very few things that really matter in this life. Jesus and family. Relationships. Helping others know Jesus. Helping struggling Christians come home.

I don't spend much time on the past. I could wallow in regrets and guilt if I wanted to ... believe me, there is plenty there. But that would fly in the face of why Jesus came to earth to find me. So... I just don't do that. So I am still living in the moment with an eye on the future.

Best thing about my life right now: I like it. I'm content. Thanks God.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Supporting Missionaries...

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about supporting missionaries. How do we decide who to support? For how long? Should churches target certain areas and concentrate only in those places? Do we select people and support them wherever they chose to go? Southern Hills is a large church, so we get lots of requests. We have tremendous university student participation, so we get requests. Many of our leaders and members have been involved in missions, so we get many requests.

I do not know that I have all the answers, but I am convinced of one core principle that takes precedence over anything else. But let me be clear that I am speaking for me, not for my fellow elders. I wish this would become SH policy, but it is not ... at least not yet. And, yes, I have publicly advocated this position at SH. So here it is.

We should commit as a family of believers that if any of our brothers and sisters do mission work, we will support them. Now at this point I am not looking to debate the exceptions (appropriate venues, definition of "one of ours", etc.). I just think our congregation ought to send any of our family who want to go. Wouldn't it be incredible to put God to the test this way. What if every congregation made this kind of commitment to it's members?

Here is the most common objection I have heard to this: what if we have more people wanting to go than the budget allows? Trash the budget. Ask God for the resources. Put our money where our mouth is. Buy smaller houses. Sell some possessions. Be people of faith. Take a second job. Then tell the rest of us how you are developing such a heart for reaching the lost.

I would love to be part of a church that had the passion to make this commitment. I would love to help shepherd a church that had so many members going into all the world that we had make real faith decisions. Wouldn't you?

And, by the way, I think I am.

So let's do it.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


The More Things Change...

You would think I had learned something over the last thirty years, but evidently not.

We had Jake (3) and Avery (2) last weekend and we are in the backyard with wading pool and Lucky (3 month old Golden Retriever). Lucky is in his cage so kids can play. I am grilling for supper. Mimi asked if I can manage to watch the grandkids for a minute while she fixes something in the kitchen.

Just a minute later (seriously, not more than a minute), I hear Avery knocking on the door and calling "Mimi". I turn and look -- Jake is in the cage and Lucky is in the wading pool. I have no idea how this happened. You would have thought Avery might have called my attention to this series of events, but she apparently thought this called for Mimi's help.

Fortunately, Mimi laughed about it. But she did wonder how I had managed to learn nothing about watching kids in thirty years.

I, on the other hand, was struck by all the wonderful sermon illustrations about putting ourselves in cages, freeing the captives, recognizing when things are not like they should be, getting help (from someone capable of helping), and ... well, you get the idea.

Thanks God for kids and dogs. Life is better for having them around.

And since I am sure all my kids are reading this... it really wasn't as bad as it sounds :)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?