Thursday, May 21, 2015

"This is the Best Church EVER!" Until it's not.

Many of you know that I meet monthly with 8 other Bible teaching churches in our community. This of course is of great encouragement to me and others I meet with. We learn from each other, challenge each other and pray for each other’s ministries.

The one thing besides Jesus that we have in common is the understanding that there are times when church ministry is painful. We as a group have experienced similar pains in each of our ministries. One pain we have in common is the hurt when someone leaves your church. The very people who say “It’s my church home. I will never go anywhere else!” But they do. And every time, it hurts.

We all have heard the reasons: “I’m not getting fed any longer.” “We feel called to support a new pastor in town.” “We don’t sing my favorite songs enough and the music is too loud.” “I’m having some issues with ________ and feel it best to just move on.” “It seems like you’re all about numbers and reaching new people, what about me?”

Every one of us in my pastor group have heard each one of these reasons. Of course, there are a hundred other reasons given, but these are the most common.

I read an interesting article by Kurt Bubna concerning this very issue. Pastor Bubna says people leave because of one reason and it always boils down to this: they don’t love you anymore or at least not as much as they used to. Let’s face it, people rarely leave what they truly love: they don’t leave a dream job that they love, a spouse whom they love, a church that they love. It just doesn’t happen.

So how do you handle this reality? Many of you have had close friends who have left the church you love and you know the hurt I’m talking about.

The first thing we need to do is accept it. People are people and our emotions are fickle. That is why someone can say “This is the best church ever!” until it’s not.

The second thing we must do is get over it. Rather than fixating on the ones who leave, let’s focus on the thousands in our community who have no relationship with Christ or His church. The harvest is still ripe, and we still have a job to do.

The third thing we must do is learn from it. Jesus had people who followed Him because of His miracles but many of them left Him. (Read John 2:23-25)

Love people, serve people, but if they leave, stay the course and reach others. Entrust your life to the One who promises never to leave or forsake you.


P.S. Have you ever felt that Christianity is nothing more than a bunch of do’s and don’ts? Have you ever felt another Christian imposes his rules on you? If so, come and discover what the single greatest impediment to being graceful is and what you can do to combat it. See you Sunday at 9:15am or 11:00am! 

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Sometimes I get irritated with myself because I know something is true with my head but I don’t act as if it’s true with my heart. Have you been there?

Take discouragement. I know in my head it is one of the enemy’s most effective tools against the people of God. I know if he can get us discouraged, experiencing defeat is right around the corner.

I also know in my head that everyone experiences discouragement. How many children’s teachers, youth leaders, adult life group leaders have dreams of seeing spiritual growth among those they teach and lead only to become discouraged and quit? How many pastors have I met that get involved in a power struggle within their churches who become discouraged and lose heart? (A lot of them)

How many men and women enter the world of business with big goals and high expectations but end up experiencing discouragement? How many singles are discouraged in their relationships? How many people enter a marriage but soon become discouraged with each other and marriage itself?

So, if I know discouragement is the enemy’s tool and everyone experiences it, then why do I succumb to it so easily? Why do I allow my heart to be overwhelmed with discouragement when I know in my mind these things about how discouragement works?

I think the answer is forgetfulness. I forget that God is faithful to provide encouragement. I forget that discouragement makes me feel detached from God and it’s at that moment I must chase after God. (Read Psalm 42:1-2, 6)

I also forget that God gives me hope. The Psalmist says “The Lord will send His faithful love by day, His song will be with me in the night – a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8) Putting hope in God reminds us of His presence even in the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23)

I also let discouragement overwhelm me when I forget His grace is sufficient for me today, right now and every day. (Take a moment and read 2 Corinthians 12:9)

Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors writes “Suffering failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement and death will be part of your journey, but the kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.”

The hard work is to remember what we forget. Fill your mind with the encouragement of God and it will transfer down to your heart. Don’t forget!


P.S If you have ever had someone judge you, misunderstand you, shun you, condemn you, blame you, reject you, you will not want to miss out on this Sunday’s message “To judge or not to judge? That is the question.”  Join me at 9:15am or 11:00am and discover how to be graceful; being a person everyone wants and needs.





Monday, May 11, 2015

The Big 5

There are five very important core values we are committed to at First Free.  A core value is like the buoy makers you see in a water channel.  The captain sees the markers and knows how to guide the boat through the channel successfully.

Our five values are speed, excellence, generosity, creativity, and positivity.  In this issue of Freshly Bru’d, I want to focus on generosity.  One thing God’s people are to be is generous.  Let me share with you four things about generosity.

First, it’s a different way to live.  God invites us to be generous every day of the year and in every part of our lives.  Whether we are talking about our money, our time, our love, or our talents we are to live generously.

Second, generosity is contagious.  Have you ever had someone at a drive thru who is ahead of you – pay for your meal?  If so, you know you then want to show the same generosity to the customer behind you.  It’s heartwarming to have someone pay for your coffee, but even more heartwarming for you to turn around and do the same for someone else.  It is contagious.

Third, generosity is counter cultural.  Most people today don’t feel like they have enough.  So we spend most of our time trying to accumulate, and the rest of our time trying to figure out how to keep what we have.  Giving away what we have, which is really God’s not ours, is directly opposed to how to cultivate acts and things.  That is why generosity is so powerful.

And last of all generosity reproduces itself.  The economy of God doesn’t work the way ours does.  When we give away what we have, when we are faithful with it instead of holding onto it, God reproduces what we have.

Nobody has ever starved because they tithed too much.  God just doesn’t work that way.  When we trust God with the money He has entrusted to us, He goes above and beyond what we gave to Him.

Generosity has never been about money, time or talent; it always has been about faith.  Faith to trust God and see Him bless.  Be generous!