I’m still learning.

Chilly —  October 10, 2014 — 7 Comments

Notes from my journal
(This Sunday we celebrate 10
years of ministry in Detroit.)

Things I’m learning today

… that I had NO clue about 10 years ago.
Part TWO.

You kids are capable of SO much more than you can even begin to imagine!

  • my FIVE heroesWhen we begin, we had three little girls (ages 12, 8 and 4). Since then, we have added to boys! So, we are now: Mariah 22, Courtney 18, Zoe 14, Maximus 9 and Chase 8.
  • They have had to adjust to various types of schooling (public school, home school, charter school, online school).
  • They have had to adjust to various types of sports leagues (Upward, Homeschool, PAL, Community).
  • They have had to adjust to various types of church buildings, leaders, people & programs (Hamtramck, Midtown, Mexicantown … Bars, Apartment Penthouse, Nightclubs, Bowling Allies, Church buildings).
  • THEY ALL LOVE GOD — LOVE THEIR PARENTS — LOVE EACH OTHER — LOVE THE LOST — LOVE CHURCH — LOVE THE MINISTRY!
  • My adult daughters are leading ministry with joy and passion. And my younger kids can’t wait to be at church or at outreach or whatever is happening! They LOVE IT!
  • They’ve had people come in and out of their lives. They have seen people fail. They certainly are eye-witnesses to my flaws & short-comings.
  • But, they have also seen hundreds & hundreds come to know Jesus. They have seen miracles. They have seen, experienced and expressed unconditional love.
  • And, most important, they EACH have a very real, personal, relationship with Christ.

I can’t even imagine all that God is doing and about to do IN and THROUGH each of their lives. They are my heroes!

Blood is thicker than water, but Spirit is thicker than blood.

  • This is a quote from my friend, Pastor Tim Dilena — he spoke this in reference to our family & friends in the faith.
  • One of the hardest things about being in full-time ministry is living far away from your family. Netta has family in Colorado and Kansas; I have family in Missouri, Minnesota and Georgia.
  • So, we are rarely with our natural families – especially when most people enjoy these times: holidays, birthdays and special events.
  • As much as we miss our natural family, our lives and home are filled with spiritual brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, sons and daughters. There’s a bond with those we serve with, that God has given us, that is powerful, personal and awesome!
  • We hope our kids will always live close and serve alongside us but if God leads them away — we are confident that He will surround them with spiritual family.

Thank you to BOTH our natural and spiritual families. WE LOVE YOU!

God doesn’t always lead through policy manuals, flow-charts and business plans.

  • Yes, I know that God is a God of order. But, I also know that sometimes ministry can be (or appear to be) messy, crazy and chaotic.
  • We’re working with people not machines. People are weird. People break down suddenly. People change. People die.
  • Our processes may not allow for the unpredictable wonderfulness, found in people.
  • Yes, we should have a plan. There should be organization.
  • But, we also must recognize that discipleship cannot be done in vacuum or delegated. It’s personal and every person is different.

Spirituality is a mixed-up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter godliness that turns our lives into an upside-down toboggan ride of unexpected turns, surprise bumps and bone shattering crashes … a life ruined by a Jesus who loves us right into his arms. Mike Yanconelli

Yes, I will still trust the policies, constitution and by-laws, programs, and plans created by amazing servants of the Lord. But, I will not be limited by these things. They are the launchpad not the rocket ship!

IF you missed Part One, be sure to scroll down!

I’m still learning.

Chilly —  October 9, 2014 — 9 Comments

Notes from my journal
(This Sunday we celebrate 10

years of ministry in Detroit.)

Things I’m learning today

… that I had NO clue about 10 years ago.
Part One.

It’s OK that everyone isn’t pumped about your passions.

  • 10YearsOfLearningWhen we moved to plant in Detroit we were certain God had sent us and therefore we expected that everyone else would joyfully and generously support us.
  • Some people discouraged us to even come to Detroit — especially with 3 small girls at the time.
  • Some people avoided me — probably because they knew I would ask to be their missionary (which means ‘I need some money’).
  • Some took a wait and see position. IF we didn’t give up, perhaps they would back us later…
  • Others had things that they were passionate about that I probably totally missed (because I was so focused on my assignment).

We have to learn that it’s ok that others don’t get all excited about the thing that we see as God’s highest priority. Don’t become jaded because they don’t cheer, or give or promote.

How you measure success could be totally wrong.

  • I had seen things (ministries) grow AMAZINGLY fast in my last two youth ministries prior to coming to Detroit.
  • Hundreds and hundreds were impacted weekly
  • We were winning & discipling teens all the time! Our city knew about us, the schools all knew about us, the media knew about us — we were rocking our world for Christ. We were growing so fast that it was like controlled chaos!

This didn’t happen quite so fast when we planted.

  • I guess the roots required to support the fruit we hoped for, would have to push through some concrete-hard soil. We would have to pray harder, wait longer, believe greater and remain faithful. This where is character develops. Intercession, fasting & perseverance are necessities.
  • Sure, we’ve grown and we’ve moved forward. New buildings. New communities.
  • People may not see the huge numbers (fruit) yet, but IF they could only see our roots, WOW!

You’re calling is connected to obedience and faithfulness. So, stick to it.

People who love you are capable of detesting you. Love them anyways!

  • Yeah, this one stings a bit. Always does.
  • I’ve never had a moral failure, I’ve never embezzled funds , I’ve never abused my kids, I’ve never been unfaithful to my wife, I’ve never split the church and I’ve never tried to hurt people.
  • Yet, I’ve hurt people, offended people and let others down.
  • Some can’t stand the mention of my name.
  • Most of these were those who were once close — very close — but, I pushed too hard, was indifferent to their struggles and challenged them to extremes in holiness.
  • I didn’t listen enough.
  • I thought out loud – became too vulnerable – revealed my kryptonite.

I don’t think you can question my love — I loved! But, imperfectly.

  • Some appeared to be loved more than others. He has ‘favorites’ or ‘a clique’ … this was never intentional but I also did not push away those that preferred being closer.

Ultimately, things changed with and/or in them. I missed it.

  • I was expected to know, embrace and follow a script that I had never been given. I let them down unintentionally (but that’s probably not how they saw it). “How could I be so clueless?” I am.

The pain is always more severe because it involves my wife and kids. They are rendered victims to misunderstandings and shattered expectations. They get cut-off & kicked in the stomach with no explanation. People who said they loved them, disappeared without a goodbye and after saying they would always be there for them (should we ever say ‘always’??)…

So, I simply try to keep the bridges from burning between us. I learn from each heart break. Apologize. Forgive. LOVE.

  • I pray that they will, one day, remember: the spiritual investment I have made — the good times — the adventures — the things that matter.
  • I pray that they will remember that we are not enemies. That we are fighting the same monster and these hurts & feelings are distractions from our mission.

And, I keep getting close to NEW people. This isn’t always easy. The door of our lives and home continues to swing open. We continue to believe in others. We continue to do our best to make disciples. We continue to love.

Miracles happen daily. Don’t miss them!

  • Oh sure, we all believe in miracles.
  • I pray for HUGE miracles all the time. But, here’s something I’ve missed SO often: ‘little’ miracles.
  • While seeking the jumbo offering, new church building, qualified staff, supernatural healing and other big-time miracles, FIGHT to see and revel in the little things!
  • People are changing, hearts or softening, doors are opening, someone is smiling, your spouse still adores you, friends love you, people are growing closer to Jesus, bills are getting paid, leaves are changing on the trees, you smell good coffee, the car started, God spoke your name in prayer today, you had milk for your cereal this morning, you remembered something and Hey! You’re ALIVE!
  • Shout, dance, sing and enjoy these daily miracles.
  • They are dress-rehearsal for the bigger miracles that ARE COMING SOON!

Never become so focused on the BIG — it’s gonna take a miracle — stuff that you miss the wonderful miracles happening constantly all around you. Find yourself praising God at various times and in unique places.

Glorify Him!

Be sure to check out Part Two next!

Link Love – 4

Chilly —  September 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

2013_linklove_header

10 Ways to Turn Yourself into a Productivity Dynamo

National Coffee Day Deals and Freebies

Learning How to Boast

The Portfolio

The Historical Accuracy of the Bible Revealed

Have Trouble Concentrating?

Bonneville Salt Flats at Night

Keep Us Little

Chilly —  September 26, 2014 — 3 Comments

So much of ‘today’s ministry’ seems BIG & BOLD – every service is a TV-ready performance choreographed down to the last second. Videos, intelligent lighting, 20 member worship band, gourmet lattes and hip leaders. I guess you can’t argue with the results, right? They’re growing & doing great things. This is not a post to rip on them – or anyone… But, what about the rest of ‘us’ without the big budget, cool buildings or paid staff?

Can we reach people without all this stuff? Can we make disciples without a video class? What if we can never afford to fly to a big conference or pay another pastor to ‘coach’ us? Can we still succeed? What if our ‘theology’ doesn’t receive the approval of the reformed or the anointing of the revived? Can we still love hurting people? Can we be effective if we don’t wear the right clothes or have the right hair style? Will you keep doing what you’re doing when the haters make you their poster child?

Does an unchurched person even notice half the
things we try to do to impress them? Hmmm
…  Continue Reading…

Truth IS Dare!

Chilly —  September 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

Truth is powerful. Truth is Jesus!

Augustine-Truth

I’ve found myself making choices in behavior, attitude and thought that directly relate to a renewed relationship with Jesus (truth) and His Word.  IF I’m not improving, then I’m proving that I’m lazy, lying or lost. Freedom is a gift not a right, it comes through Christ not charisma.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:32, 36

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Here’s a few quotes about TRUTH from my journal:

    • IF what you’re trusting as TRUTH doesn’t make you FREE, it’s false. That stinks!
    • How can we be entertained by lies and still claim to know & love the truth?
    • Want to make a difference? Live the Truth!
    • What you believe determines how you behave.
    • A lot of us are still choosing ‘dare’ (in “truth or dare” game w/ God). We would rather do something daring for God, then be known for truth.
    • Truth can speak anywhere because truth is everywhere… Jesus should not have to barge in on my insecurity and pride just to speak truth.
    • Truth will never define a coward.
    • Dont use spiritual terminology to cover up your rebellion. Call it sin.
    • You can lie to yourself about something so many times that you start believing it as truth… and even fight for it.
    • Truth is not what you make it to be… If you wanna deny truth to save-face with a friend, you’ve got it all backwards… and you’ve grieved the Holy Spirit.
    • Righteousness guards the person of integrity.
    • If you’re living in truth, talk to Him and find out where the shadows creep in and fix those cracks.

Are you living in a shade of Grey?  Move to Truth & experience God in ways you have yet to have embraced.  Truth cannot be stopped – so, be sure you’re living on the side of LIGHT!

A man can no more diminish God’s glory (truth) by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. ~ C. S. Lewis

Did any of the quotes (above) jump out to you?  How is TRUTH impacting your life?

Daring to BE True, Chilly