Last Sunday may have been one of the best days at Elevate Church. I had the privilege of baptizing 24 people in water at our Baptism Bash. I baptized people from 83 years young to 8 years old (and we did it all in 40 minutes). I could see the excitement and the tears on both those who were being baptized and in the church family observing. Lives were being transformed in the water and testimonies were being declared from hearts alive with God’s power. It was absolutely electrifying! Okay, it may be just my opinion, but I still believe that the transformation from darkness to light – death to life, is still the greatest miracle on earth. It is the heartbeat of Elevate Church.
Here’s the Monday morning routine for me:
1. Wake up around 5:30 AM thinking, “Man I’m tired. Is it morning already???” 🙂
2. Shower, shave, brush (my teeth not my hair), dress.
3. Kiss the most wonderful lady in the world good morning.
4. 8 minutes until coffee is done – I can smell it now.
5. Grab my Bible and my coffee and settle in for a few minutes reading and worshipping.
6. Devotion time around the table with the family @ 7:30 AM.
7. Off to Elevate to meet carpet installers to install new carpet in the classrooms.
Until just recently, I drove a 1999 Ford Explorer with 189K miles on it. It was really a miracle car that helped us get through the first 3 1/2 years of church planting without a car payment. I say miracle because it had many things in need of repair and yet it kept on rolling down the road every day. But anytime someone new would get behind the wheel, I would have to explain to them that the gear shift was off by one letter. When it said “D” for drive it was really in neutral. It was kind of funny to watch people get in and drop it in “D” and go nowhere.
In Ephesians 4:14-15 Paul talks to us as believers about growing up in our spiritual maturity. Here’s what he says: 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Okay, here’s the not-so-funny thing about growing up in our faith: Sometimes we think we are in DRIVE but we are really in NEUTRAL. The true test of spiritual growth and maturity is demonstrated not by what we believe but by our behavior. Let me break that down: Our beliefs may be in DRIVE but our behavior is in NEUTRAL. Over the many years of coaching and leading people in their journey of faith, I have observed that some people simply want to coast in neutral because it’s less challenging.
Hey, can I challenge you today to make sure your are really in DRIVE in your spiritual growth? Look at your habits, attitudes, words, and actions. Are you growing more and more like Jesus? Or are you just coasting? Remember, maturity is critical to your journey of faith, so shift gears and get growing.
Last Sunday I began a new series from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers called Blessed Beyond Belief. When I think of the extent that God showed His incredible love for us – it is hard to wrap my mind around it. HE CHOSE US, before the foundations of the world, to call us His own and adopt us into His family. This flies in the face of the rejection we often face in our lives.
Okay, here are some thoughts about dealing with rejection in your life:
1. Try to separate out the circumstantial from the personal. In other words, there may be times I face rejection, not because of who I am but because of the circumstances. Example: If I don’t land the job, it’s probably not a rejection of who I am but only a circumstantial rejection. SO I CAN’T TAKE IT PERSONAL!
2. There are things we CAN do that make us more acceptable. I am not suggesting that we make acceptance from others our #1 goal or compromise our values. However, I might ask the Holy Spirit to help me change in an area of my life that might turn people away. Let me give you an example: I knew a person who was continually critical and negative. Because of her chronic complaints, she often would have friendships that would disappear. Then she would go into deep depression because she felt rejected. Yet she never changed her negativity. You see, even though God created us to be who we are, there are things that CAN change to make us more acceptable to others. AND they are pleasing to God.
3. Remember this: Jesus was rejected! Hey, it should not catch us totally off guard when we face rejection. The Cross was the ultimate relection. But it was also the place where Jesus promised to heal the pain of rejection in our own lives.
4. Romans 8:31 says this: “If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one.”
5. Let go of the pain of the past. If you give it to God, He can heal you. The greatest healing from rejection happens when you realize that HE CHOSE YOU. You are not a random pick but first pick. All else pales in comparison to that one fact. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the devil’s trap to feel sorry for yourself. That only prolongs the pain.
6. Change your conversation from “I’m hurt” to “I’m being healed”. Even though you may have scars, remember, scars prove that we have been hurt BUT also that we have been healed!
Email me and let me know how God is healing you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was the best Father’s Day Celebration ever at Elevate. We had over 25 classic cars, motorcycles and racing cars. And some of the best BBQ in he county (way to go Danny). Most importantly, 15 people made decisions for Christ Sunday at Elevate Church. I am so proud to be a part of what God is doing in this ministry. Even though we are only 3 1/2 years old, together we are making a difference in people’s lives. I am also pumped up that 44 families are now taking the 30 Day Challenge to lead family devotions from around their table. This is going to be transformational in the families at Elevate. God is so incredible!
Over the past couple of weeks, our family devotions have focused on the book of Acts. The book of Acts might possibly be the most insightful look into the New Testament church and believers. I think I am drawn to Acts for a couple of reasons:
First, because as a church planter, I thrill at reading how God launched the first New Testament church. It is full of excitement, enthusiasm, twists and turns, and discovering new platforms to share the message of Christ with a lost world. My passion as a pastor/church planter is to replicate the initial design of God in the church today. We are still a New Testament church. Our goal should be vibrancy and relevancy as it relates to reaching a new generation of believers.
The second reason is maybe even more powerful. The Book of Acts is the record of how the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) came to operate in the lives of believers and in the life of the church. This is so amazing. The book of Acts actually records the Acts of the Holy Spirit as God moves by His power and presence through His people. Just think of all the acts of the Holy Spirit in the first two chapters alone.
Acts 1: 4 – Jesus tells his followers to wait in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:8 – Jesus promises the believers new power and a new dimension in their witness and walk through the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:1 – The believers were gathered together worshipping and praying when the Holy Spirit came.
Acts 2:1-4 – All the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit as God poured our His presence on them. The outward evidence was a new language.
Acts 2:38 – In Peter’s message, he gives us the promise that the infilling of the Holy Spirit is for any believer (not just for back then).
Acts 2:42-47 – The Holy Spirit launches the New Testament church and many people were added to the church family.
All of this was just the beginning of what God continues today in His church. And He is still writing the rest of the story in your life and in mine. I challenge you to take time in the next few days to sit down and read the Book of Acts. It can be absolutely empowering.
There are some words that have been rolling around in my heart for a few weeks that I must blog about. They are from Deuteronomy 34:5 – “And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said.” Now, at first glance, you probably wouldn’t know how powerful this verse is. So what, Moses died in Moab??? What’s the big deal – He’s dead? Unless, of course you put it against the backdrop of his 40 year journey to get to the Land of Promise. The sad part about this verse is that he saw the Land of Promise from a distance but never got to go in. He died in Moab. WHY? Because he dishonored God. In Numbers 20:12, the Bible says Moses became angry and struck the rock to get water when God had told him to speak to the rock.
Now, here’s my take about Leadership and Life:
1. God holds leaders to a higher standard of living. If you lead in ANY CAPACITY, God expects you to live to a higher standard of holiness. It doesn’t make you better than anyone, so don’t get prideful about it. I sometimes grieve over leaders who refuse to believe this principle.
2. God expects leaders to be an example. Listen: The church needs people who will look, talk, act, love, and live like Jesus – in every area of their lives. Don’t live so close to the culture that nobody can tell the difference. Live your life sold out to God and His principles. We have enough people who have one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom. God is looking for someone who will give Him everything.
3. As a leader, nothing speaks louder than your life. Not your words, skills, abilities, work, intelligence, or anything else. All of those things must be backed up by living the life God expects you to live.
4. There are consequences to our actions. Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you won’t suffer the consequences of your actions. You and I are not exempt. God doesn’t play favorites and He proved that with Moses.
5. You can work hard towards a goal and still miss the mark if you walk in disobedience to God.
Even though Moses died in Moab, he was still a great leader that God used powerfully in the Old Testament. But I often think of what it would have been like for Moses to have crossed over into the Land of Promise.