Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's the Big Idea?

The gang at Community Christian have published their first collaborative book entitled, "The Big Idea." These guys are working hard to impact the Kingdom through their multi-site vision. Our staff had an opportunity to spend some time with these guys a few months ago and they are doing a fantastic job!

You can visit their new website: The Big Idea Online

I haven't had a chance to read their book yet (I'd love to review it for you guys!), but I know it will be packed full of information you won't want to miss!

You can also check out their blogs:

Dave Ferguson - Velocity
Jon Ferguson - Viscosity
Eric Bramlett - Eric's Eddyfications

Serving God Knows What

God. Spouse. Family. Work.

God gave us a plan to a fruitful and fulfilled life. Are the words above the order you find yourself serving? If you're like me, it's easy to turn everything around - the beginning becomes the end and the end becomes the beginning. After a long period like that it feels like everything is the ending! That's because God didn't create us to live our lives in an unhealthy way. I constantly have to remind myself of that because by nature I'm a "workaholic."

I love this post by Perry Noble. He talks about honoring his wife in a very Godly way. It's not like we haven't heard it before, but Perry is actually living it. God, spouse, family, work.

Where are your priorities?

Just Like Grandma Used to Say

A great quote from Len Sweet courtesy of Mark Batterson:

"Ask the grandparents in your church: how many of you would lay down your life for your grandchildren? Every grandparent will raise their hand. Then ask them: how many of you would lay down your musical preferences for your grandchildren?"

Sunday, January 28, 2007

On the Road Again

I just got back from a weekend trip to Nashville. Bryan, Greg and I visited LifeChurch.tv's Hendersonville campus. Props go out to Andrew, Brandon and the rest of the gang for hosting us and answering a LOT of questions. The Hendersonville campus has grown from approximately 50 to 200 in the past six months. The campus is located in a tiny strip mall that has been retrofitted into a cool new space. These guys definitely know how to make a small space work!

We've been visiting several churches that do "multi-site" to find out what principles work best. We're also really working hard on systems and processes to help us get organized. Lots of questions have been answered as well as some new possibilities - I can't wait to see what direction God sends us in next!

On a side note...if you ever have opportunity to stop and eat at Patti's Settlement DO IT!! The food is incredible - from the bread to the desserts, you won't be disappointed!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

She's Off To See the Wizard...I mean, the Mickey

Well, it's official. My oldest daughter, Kayla, is now the newest member of the Disney World College Internship program. After a year and a half of a challenging pharmacy school, she has accepted an offer at Disney. We have been praying over this decision for the past two weeks, but things are finalized and she is preparing to leave. She has to arrive by Monday, February 5th, where she will check in and find out her apartment (which they provide) and where she will work, etc. She will also take classes while she is there (which they provide) and will be able to transfer them wherever she wants.

She qualified for the extended internship which runs from now until August. It will be a long time before we see her again, but I pray she takes this time to reflect on life, prepare for the future, and develop some new networking opportunities. The world is wide open if she'll only take time to breathe it in.

I booked a flight tonight (finally). I don't know if you have ever tried to book a one way flight, but the prices change DAILY. Sometimes more than once a day. I had been "eye-ing" a non-stop flight with American Airlines, but the price had hovered at $250 for the past two days. Tonight however, it sunk to a mere $77!! Talk about a God send...we are very carefully watching our finances and this was just what God ordered!

So here's to Disney and Orlando - let's see what the future holds!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Never Too Late to Say Hello

Dave Ferguson points us to Donald Crowdis (not David Crowder) - a 93 year old blogger who still has a lot of life in him. I found some solace in his latest post about not being ready to go. I thought you might find some of his comments interesting as well:
I've floated on the remark "Been there, done that" for some time now, but the notion that the moment is approaching when I can no longer say this bothers me. The truth is, I don't want to go.

There are many reasons. For too long I have behaved as if I could postpone going indefinitely, and thus have so many things that I must do first. I don't want my successors to find out how much I could have done that isn't done, not by a long shot. There are numerous notes and letters I must write. There are places I've wanted to travel, but never had the chance. Actually, each of you can, if you think yourself into my age, fill out the list. At least you can try to understand why I say that I hate to go.
I have been toying with the idea lately of making a list of 100 things I want to do before I die. I guess there's something a bit morbid about actually writing the list down, but I have read several books or blogs lately (coincidental?) that have spurred my thinking. Has anyone ever made a list like that? And what happens if you actually accomplish all of those things?

There is definitely power in writing things down, especially goals. Putting pen to paper from thoughts in the mind has a very sobering effect - you either accomplish them or you don't. A lot of people I know never write their goals down. I think they really fear failure. Once you write it down you've committed - especially if you share it with someone else. Most people never open themselves up to that level of accountability.

I heard Mark Batterson say in a podcast recently that it finally hit him that he would rather live with his failures than with the "what if's" that never came to be. Some wise words.

I thought it fitting to close with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. Enjoy his words.

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

From a speech given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Leaders as Learners

Meadow Heights has always followed a simple mantra for all staff members: Leaders are learners. We learn in many ways, but one of the most important ways is through reading. I am always interested in what other leaders are reading, so with this in mind, I wanted to list the last 10 books I have read:
  • The E-Myth Revisted by Michael Gerber - a great book with some practical insights for church leaders. Written as a business book, the discussion of systems and processes are key to any developing organization.
  • Confessions of A Pastor by Craig Groeschel - a very enjoyable read with some great insights into the life of a pastor. Thanks to LifeChurch.tv (and LifeChurchOpen) for sending me a free book.
  • In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson - Mark's first "official" book is an easy and fascinating read. I promised Mark a review after he sent me his book, so I'll post a review soon.
  • Black by Ted Dekker - the only fiction book on the list. First book in a trilogy, Ted is a wonderful writer with an intriguing style of writing.
  • The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren - I am a HUGE McLaren fan, but I must say I was quite disappointed in this book. There were a few great moments in his writing, but not nearly the mental wrestling readers had with the "New Kind of Christian" books.
  • Simple Church by Rainer and Geiger - one of those books that reinforces your views of how church can be organized. A fresh perspective on how "simple" church can really be.
  • The Multi-Site Church Revolution by Surratt, Ligon and Bird - a must read for any church thinking about going multi-site. Great stories and statistics throughout.
  • Sheet Music by Kevin Leman - if you're married, this book is a must. What can I say? It's full of, how should I say this..."revealing" information?
  • Communicating For A Change by Andy Stanley - another "must" read for any communicator. Andy's thoughts on the main idea are wonderful suggestions. An easy read chocked full of great information.
  • The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll - an interesting read, but not nearly as good as his first book, "Confessions of a Reformission Rev." Mark has his own unique style and is VERY, very funny.
What books have you read lately? What would you list as "must reads?" Feel free to leave a comment for some future reading suggestions!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

We Delight

Here are some great thoughts from Seth Godin that the church could really use:

Our mind is prepared for what we are about to receive. If it's a sales pitch, we're ready to ignore it. If it's on a familiar blog, we're ready for it to be familiar.

Real memories are created by surprises.
Real change is created by unexpected juxtapositions.

If God were to evaluate your church today, what would He say? Would your "sales pitch" be one He would ignore? I love this fresh perspective on how to view church - REAL memories are created by surprises. Isn't that so true? Think about it...when was the last time your were "surprised" at church? Is it "business as usual" or is God showing up in fresh and unexpected ways?

I am so thankful that God has challenged us to be a different type of church. Meadow Heights focuses on honoring God through the creative arts, balanced teaching, and sometimes thinking way outside the box. Let's face it - society lives outside the box. Why can't we use the same philosophy at church?

I pray that this week God will show up in your life. He might possibly show up as a surprise, in a little way, or with a great big bang. Whatever it is, never lose the delight (or take for granted) when God reveals Himself to you.

"Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart's desires."
Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

Pioneers vs. Adopters

Seacoast Church has added an "internet campus." You can check out their new site here. They are the second church to try this experiment (LifeChurch.tv was the first) and I will be interested to see how this one turns out.

Pioneers don't always get credit for an idea until the next wave of adopters implement it. A lot of products we're all familiar with have been around for a long time. Someone pioneered the idea, but adopters made it famous. I think God wants us all to be pioneers but we're too content to be adopters because it's a whole lot easier.

You have probably heard the old adage "it's better to try and fail then to have never tried at all." Is that true of your life? If not, what's holding you back? Fear? Pride? I am really working through some personal challenges God is asking me to tackle. It's never easy to look back on your life and find the patterns of contentment (which is not always bad) when God is asking you to do so much more. Contentment is a Godly character, but it is a source of self when contentment is derived from laziness.

What are you content with that God is asking you to take a risk and be a pioneer? But maybe the bigger question is, what are you going to do about it?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Michael Brecker: 1949-2007

I just heard that one of my musical idols and a huge influence on my playing passed away a few days ago. Michael Brecker, who set the bar in so many areas, will be missed by saxophonists and jazzers around the world. I have followed Brecker since my teenage years, and his playing influenced almost every modern day saxophonist. His style developed from the funky sounds of the Brecker Brothers and Steps Ahead to the straight ahead playing on his early solo albums to the "Breckerish" sound in recent years that was so evident to any listener.

Michael Brecker was only 57, but battled MDS and leukemia for the past two and half years. More information on how you can help others battle this deadly disease is available on his website which is still active today.

For all of us who were influenced by Brecker's music...I bid him a very sad but fond farewell.

It's All Good

It's always refreshing to be around someone whose heart is on fire for God. That was my experience today with a young man named "Sam." Sam's heart is on fire for God. He's bold but not brazen, passionate but not over-dramatic, dangerous but not reckless. In short, Sam is open to God's direction and not afraid to do whatever He asks.

I love what Sam said during our few minutes together:
If I attempt something for God and end up falling off a cliff, it will be good. If I attempt something and stay on the cliff, it will still be good.
Sam is not afraid to fail for God. I've heard it said that there are no failures, only experiments that didn't work. I hope God sees all of us like that.

I'll close with a quote from Erwin McManus (thanks for sharing this Bryan!) that sums up people just like Sam - may we all take a small piece of courage from the warriors around us!

“Let’s go and pick a fight. Perhaps God will help!” Jonathan
(as paraphrased by Erwin McManus)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

An Incredible Weekend

It was an incredibly busy weekend, but I had a blast! Our lead pastor, Bryan Mills was put on voice rest by his voice specialist last Thursday until he could see his regular doctor this week. With that being said (no pun intended!), Bryan asked me to step up and teach the message this weekend. First of all, I appreciate the opportunity, and second, God always speaks to me in a powerful way on the weekends I teach, and this weekend was no exception.

We are in a four part series called "Mind Your Own Business 2," and today I talked about how to tackle debt. So many people in this world are burdened and shackled by debt that has accumulated over time. They worry about their finances and many feel lost and helpless. I feel very passionate about this subject because I too have been in that same position, but God has given me and my family a new vision for our finances and I AM PUMPED! It is so freeing to finally have a "plan" for our money - telling it where to go instead of wondering where it went!

We have a long way to go, but there is LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL! I pray that those who are finding themselves slaves to the lender will be able to break free and find God's vision for their finances. Can you imagine an entire church totally debt free, ready and willing to say YES to anything and everything God asks them to do? IT CAN HAPPEN!

I encourage you to check out our new series and the resources on our website at www.meadowheights.com. So many churches shy away from talking about money, but thankfully WE'RE DETERMINED to help people find God's vision for their finances. We've experienced incredible growth the past two weeks because people really want to know what the Bible says about money. It's time for the church to take a stand and help people experience the freedom God designed for each and every one of us.

We're learning to say "NO" for a little while, so we can say "YES" to God for the REST OF OUR LIVES!!

Time for a Change

Well, it's official. Tony Morgan is moving. He's accepted a position on staff at New Spring Church with one of my favorite bloggers, Perry Noble. Here's a list of sites that you can find out more information:
Tony has been on staff at Granger Community Church for the past eight years, but feels like God is calling him into new territory. His title is yet to be determined at New Spring, but I know he will do a great job. Good luck to Tony during this transition!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Calling All Prayer Warriors

I'm writing to ask for prayer for a very special friend of mine. He has received some news that is very discouraging and would cause most anyone to question God's plan for their lives. God is ultimately in control, but that doesn't make the situation any easier. Please pray for strength, encouragement and a renewed faith during these difficult times.

Moving On Up

A big announcement is coming tomorrow regarding Tony Morgan's blog. He's set to unveil this big "secret" tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.

Tony did reveal today that long time blogger Terry Storch has left Fellowship Church in Dallas for the cooler climates of Oklahoma, specifically to work for LifeChurch.tv. Terry has a new book coming out soon called "The Blogging Church." As I heard someone say recently, Terry is the only person who could write a book about blogging but not have an active blog himself. Maybe his move to LifeChurch will allow him an opportunity to start the blog again? Congrats to Terry - for the move and the book!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Apple's At It Again!

Apple rocked the world again today as Steve Jobs unveiled the new "iPhone" during the keynote at MacWorld 2007 today. This phone looks incredible, and Apple's stock rose an amazing 7% after their announcement today. The phone will be carried by Cingular, but won't be available until June. I can't wait!

To read more about the iPhone, click here.

A Little Fired Up!

Perry Noble is at it again! This post is sure to draw some comments - check it out here.


Everyone's talking about it, so I thought I'd throw my plug in as well.

Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv, and Bobby Gruenewald have officially started a blog to share their thoughts and ideas on God, the Church and life. Their blog, called swerve, has some great insights as well as links to other blogs and several churches. My favorite part? Their list of what they are currently reading. I can't wait to see how this blog develops!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

2007 Missouri Inaugural Ball

I had an amazing opportunity to perform at the 2007 Missouri Inaugural Ball in Jefferson City last night. I played with a big band through the course of the evening as all the representatives and senators were "announced" along with Governor Blunt. An interesting evening to say the least.

The crowd was an eclectic mix of young and old alike, but all of them enjoyed dancing all night long! I was accompanied by my wife who also enjoyed the evening. We stayed overnight at Candlewood Suites and I must say, I am very impressed by this chain of hotels. The suites included hard wood floors upon entry, a full kitchen including stove, refrigerator and dishwasher, a spacious living area with a lounge chair, and a nice HOT shower! I would highly recommend this place!

Two interesting side notes:

* The rotunda inside of the capitol has various sayings engraved into the stone. The one that caught my eye? The scripture from the message last weekend..."Where there is no vision, the people perish..."

* My wife had to go pick up a few items, and when she returned to the capitol building, there were absolutely NO parking spaces left. Security was tight, but after a quick phone call, she was allowed to pull up ON the sidewalk, across a small patch of grass, and finally parked near the steps right next to some columns. Might I say that it could possibly have been the BEST parking spot in Jeff City? And certainly CLOSE to the Capitol!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Conversation of a Lifetime

I met a very interesting fellow tonight. We engaged in some initial conversation, but then I really seemed to connect with him and we chatted for about 15 minutes or so. I found out that he is the uncle of a good friend of my wife and mine, and a great uncle of two of my former students.

What really struck me about our conversation was the passion with which he spoke of the past. You see, this man is living what is probably the last part of his life in a skilled nursing facility. He used to live on a farm, and when I asked him about it, his eyes lit up with fond remembrance of days past. As he described his love of the farm, I sensed a longing to return there, and at one point he stopped momentarily with emotion welling up inside of him. You could absolutely feel in your soul how much he missed it there.

He went on to talk about his military career, his schooling, his parents and his wife of over forty years that had long since passed from this world. While he enjoyed staying in his new home, it would never be the same as the green pastures he loved his entire life. He even mentioned how he felt he was nearing the "end of the road." Loneliness was his constant companion.

None of us really know how we will spend the end of our days. Will it be in our own home? With loved ones? Alone? While we can't predict the future, we can enjoy and experience what God has given us today.

I love how Michael Gerber, author "The E-Myth" and "The E-Myth Revisited" describes how great people live their lives:
"Great people have a vision of their lives that they practice emulating each and every day. They go to work on their lives, not just in their lives. Their lives are spent living out the vision they have of their future, in the present. They compare what they've done with what they intended to do. And where there's a disparity between the two, they don't wait very long to make up the difference."
Intentional living with intentional purpose. Not living by accident, but with a vision. God asks us to create our lives actively with Him in mind. A good friend of mine says to "choose your regrets wisely." I might add that not choosing at all might be the biggest regret of all.

I'll close with a question I've been asking myself a lot, and I hope you'll let this resonate with you as well. What is God's vision for my life, and how am I planning to get there?