The Blessed Church

Blessed ChurchIf you are a senior pastor, you’ll want to read The Blessed Church by Robert Morris.    This book was simple, straight-forward and effective.   Morris tells the story of his thriving church, Gateway Church in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.

As you read his stories and advice, it comes across with an authenticity that is refreshing and inspiring.   It’s easy to read, and lots of stories will keep you interested.  You don’t get the feeling that Morris is trying to impress you, but that he is trying to help you.   I can’t recommend this book enough for senior pastors, or those considering becoming a senior pastor.   This book definitely impacted my ministry in a positive way – a must read for pastors!

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This book was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing.

Introducing “CIL Forward”

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Wednesday night, we are introducing our new growth process called CIL Forward.  In order to gain the momentum God wants us to have, we have to travel in the same direction.

What is CIL FORWARD?

CIL Forward exists so that every person in our church has heard our vision, understands the gospel, is in relationship with Christ and is engaging in ministry.  

We are asking every leader and those desiring to become a “covenant partner” to complete Forward 101, Forward 102, Forward 103 and Forward 104 during 2013.   At the end of this process, you will have the opportunity to become a “Covenant Partner” with CIL, if you so choose.

I will be sharing the vision of the church during Forward 101 on Wednesday, January 9 at 6:30 p.m.  Other leaders will be teaching the other classed during our 9:00 am. service the rest of January.

Here is the schedule for January (we’ll offer other opportunities throughout the year):

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 (9:00 a.m.)     Forward 101

Sunday, January 13, 2013 (9:00 a.m.)            Forward 102

Sunday, January 20, 2013 (9:00 a.m.)           Forward 103

Sunday, January 27, 2013 (9:00 a.m.)           Forward 104

Prayer Focus (January 7-13)

Our guest speaker on December 30, 2012, encouraged us to pray the “Prayer of Jabez” for the four weeks in a row, with a new focus each week.   I decided to wait a week to blog about this to get more of us involved in this prayer focus.

This week we wil pray, “Oh that you would bless me.”

The prayer of Jabez came from an obscure, but powerful Scripture in 1 Chronicles 4:10, which states:

Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.

Let’s use this Scripture as a prayer guide this month!   What will happen to our lives and church if we all pray this from the heart!

New Student Pastor Hired at CIL

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I am happy to announce that Matt and Zoe Malone are the new student pastors at CIL.   The Malones met at Carson-Newman College where Matt was president of the FCA, and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion (2009).   For two years they worked in pastoral ministry in South Korea, before returning to the United States in 2012.

Matt is a people-person, who uses his energy and relational skills to connect with teenagers.  He is a gifted communicator, and is eager to share his gifts with a youth group and church.  He strongly believes in discipleship, and will be working along side me to establish a small group based, discipleship process for our teenagers.

Matt and Zoe’s first service with CIL will be Wednesday, January 16th.

We thank God for bringing this couple to our church!

Begin 2013 by Giving “First” to God

ImageOne of the principals that have changed my financial life is the concept of “First-Fruits” Giving.   I’ve always tithed (given 10% of my income), but I realized in recent years that its not just what I give, but when I give.

We should give the first 10%.   God shouldn’t get our leftovers, but giving to Him should be the first transaction after we get paid.  This is not a law, but an opportunity!

It takes faith to be a first-fruits, tither, but God will bless you for it!  It’s alway about the heart, and giving to God first shows that He has our heart.

As you worship God this weekend, put Him first by giving your tithe at the beginning of the month. If you doubt His provision and blessing, you may be tempted to give at the end, only when there is money leftover.   God deserves better.

I’m praying this will be a great year for you financially as you faithfully give to the Kindgom of God!

Here is a sermon I preached on this:

http://indianlake.sermon.tv/5908835

New Sermon Series on “Holiness” Starts this Sunday

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For a long time, God has been stirring me about the subject of holiness.   This Sunday (January 6), I’m going to start a new message series called 100 % Pure:  God’s Call to Holiness.

Lose weight. Pay down debt.  More dates with our spouse.  A vacation with our kids.

As we start a new year, we have lots  of goals to make ourselves better, and those goals can be really good!

But, do you ever make a goal to be holy?

God wants us to be holy, and the next few sermons will show us how pleasant and becoming His holiness is.

My reflections on Les Mis

ImageThe musical Les Miserables is a powerful piece of art.   I saw the musical in London in 1996, Nashville in 1998, owned the CD through the “W” administration, listened to dowloads on itunes more recently, and saw the movie in 2013.   The story has multi-layers of themes:

– The cycles of poverty unbroken among the poor.
– The people’s power to oppose oppressive government
– Bravery of the young, and wisdom of the old.
– Complex emotions that occur in human romance.

Not to be lost is the proto-type of Christianity in the story.  Jean Valjean is the character who has received grace, and so now he freely gives grace.   Javert is the “rule-keeper,”  who looks down on others who don’t follow the law (sounds a lot like a Pharisee or a fundamentalist).   I see a lot of myself in both characters.

A great piece of art evokes passion, opinion, debate and keeps you thinking . . . Well done, Les Mis!

Read Your Digital Bible

I love seeing people reading the Bible, and there isn’t a better tool in this digital age than You Version, which our friends at Lifechurch.tv has  so generously created and shared with the Body of Christ.

Here is a recent posting from You Version that shows you some on-line options for reading your Bible this year:

ImageHappy 2013! Each new year offers a great time of refreshing: setting goals for our lives, and choosing to make positive changes. It’s also the perfect time for getting back into the Bible, or even for getting into it for the first time.

YouVersion’s ready to help you lock in that daily habit of time in God’s Word, offering several plans — some new, some proven favorites. Find the one that’s right for you:

New Plans Just Added:

  • NIV Once-A-Day With six new devotionals, make the Bible a daily habit as you read short devotionals that fit into the pace of life. From Zondervan. various lengths
  • Made to Crave: 21 Day Challenge Bridge the gap between your desire to live a healthy lifestyle and the spiritual strength you need for lasting change. >From Lysa TerKeurst. 21 days
  • God’s Glory and Your Purpose: Devotions with John Piper In this five-day video devotional, John Piper explains what the Bible teaches about the glory of God, and how it impacts our daily lives. From Desiring God. 5 days

Browse even more new plans…

Tried and True Plans:

  • The One Year® Bible The most popular plan on YouVersion, experience the joy of reading the entire Bible with as little as 15 minutes of reading each day. From Tyndale. 1 year
  • The Essential 100 A favorite around the world, the E100 guides you through 50 Old Testament and 50 New Testament passages, helping you see the big picture of God’s Word. From Scripture Union. 100 days
  • Soul Detox Use this plan to identify what’s been chipping away at your soul, and to cleanse your spirit, as you step into the person God created you to be. From LifeChurch.tv. 35 days

Browse all plans…

Of course we have hundreds more plans, and in dozens of languages. You can always check our full list of Reading Plans, and simply choose the language you’re looking for. It’s easy!