Thursday, January 29, 2015

I am asking for your help to think outside the box as we typically think in church relating to our culture. Most of what we program, talk about, emphasize with great value is married adults with families. We should continue to minister to this important demographic, however, we should also acknowledge with great value and importance of that “invisible” enormous multitude of unmarried adults. Over a third of the population of Lincoln (our mission field) fits into this category. But do we intentionally value them? I am asking you to make greater effort in this important segment of our city.

Recently, I read an article written by Brandon Cox giving churches some helpful tips for loving and ministering to single adults who are members or guests at church. As I list the tips, ask yourself “How and I doing in reaching adults who are unmarried?” Let’s strive to see them. Pray for them. Love them wholeheartedly as God does.

Here are the tips:

1. See each single adult as a valued individual, ready to meet God and serve Him with or without a boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, spouse or children.

2. Greeters and Ushers be sensitive to what you say. “Are you alone?” or “It’s just you?” may indicate that he or she is incomplete.

3. Acknowledge single adults as full-fledged participants, not just as sideline people. Let’s plug them into leadership and ministry roles to fit their gifts.

4. Invite them into your life groups even if it is made up of couples. Offer choices to them to choose a group they would enjoy.

5. Encourage them to make the most of their singleness. Recognize the extra gift they may bring to the church such as more freedom to serve, travel and give.

6. Don’t be a “matchmaker.” Avoid communicating “It’s God’s will that you find a mate.” Paul taught singleness as a gift. (1 Corinthians 7) They are here to worship, to serve, to support.

7. Include them in worship, service and church events as you would anybody.

8. Provide them quality and unique single events to their specific life circumstances.

9. Be a friend with singles. Invest in them. Invite them to dinner. Encourage them.

10. Be constantly aware of single adults all around you at work, in the grocery line, at the ball game and in your neighborhood. Invite them to First Free.


P.S. Feel overwhelmed, overworked, overscheduled? Feel that your pace of life is out of control? Need answers to the stress? Come this Sunday at 9:00 or 10:30 and discover what the Bible has to say about Simplify: Making Life More Manageable. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

People Pleaser

I have always been a people pleaser. Can you identify? I’ve memorized Galatians 1:10, obviously I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. But I am still struggling with wanting people’s approval. I have talked to other pastors through the years and have found that many of them struggle with it as well.

We want people to like our sermons, our jokes, our counsel, our leadership decisions, our family, our personality. You probably know how it works. You try to make everybody around you happy so they will like you only to discover you bottle up feelings of frustration and disagreements.

I just came across an article describing a book that I have ordered entitled: People-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership. While the book is written by Charles Stone, a pastor to pastors, the applications are fitting for anyone who struggles with people-pleasing.

He tells pastors, leaders, and anyone there are certain people you have permission not to please anymore. One group is your critics. Every person has them. Not every person has the permission or right to speak into your life. Listen to your critics but fully embrace your true identity in Christ. As His child, you can learn to deflect untrue and unloving criticism. Live to please God alone.

Peers. No person can keep all their friends and peers happy, let alone gain all their approval. Be who God has made you to be while respecting who God has called your peers to be.

A non-believing world. God does not want you to water down or alter His truth so we can be understood by a world far from Him. Speak to the culture in a way it can understand, be sensitive, loving, grace-filled and wise but don’t avoid the truth to be liked by the world.

Your family. What? Living to please your spouse and kids can kill you, your marriage, your relationship with your children and relationship with close friends. Why? To keep them happy you often become dishonest about your faults, failures, internal struggles and say things not true just to keep your family happy.

We all have only one person to please – God. Serve others. Encourage others. Work alongside others well. But live to please an audience of one – Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Thanks for letting me share one of my personal struggles with you. Pray for me as I learn to live to please my Creator. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Worry Well

Here is the list of things Americans worry about more than anything else: Getting to heaven, money and the economy, what comes after death, individual health, relationship with significant other, terrorism, health of a family member, Bird Flu (or some other strain), job, and the end of the world.

Perhaps you could add several to the list: What people think of you, bullies, war, crime, what your teenagers are doing, car trouble, etc…

Let’s admit it, worry is something we all do and something most of us think we shouldn’t do. But worry itself is not a bad thing. It’s how we worry and how we respond that determines if our sleepless nights are helpful or paralyzing, motivating or depressing, a path to despair or a path to peace.

Sometimes worry can be a good thing. (Take the time to read Proverbs 22:3, 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 and 11:27-29, Philippians 2:19-21 and Luke 22:41-45) We can’t control our feelings but we can control our response.

If you want to discover how to worry well, Philippians 4:4-9 gives us some tips. First, the right kind of prayer. You need to tell God exactly what you want. You need to thank God for all He has already done. Pray Philippians 4:4-9 as often as you need to. (See also Psalm 55:17, Luke 18:1-8 and John 14:27)

The right kind of focus is the second tip to discover how to worry well. What we focus on determines what we see. Focus on facts, not the “what if’s”. The “what if’s” will destroy you. (Read Philippians 4:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Peter 1:5-7 and 2 Corinthians 10:5)

The last tip is the right kind of life. (See Philippians 4:9) Obedience breeds confidence whereas guilt produces fear. Sin honestly removes God’s protection. (cf 1 Peter 3:12-14)

The next time you find yourself in a state of worry, why not try these tips?