Integrity: The First Pillar of Wisdom

Having finished our series on The Seven Pillars of wisdom, I thought I would unpack them in a blog so we can be reminded of their importance.

Last blog was on the foundation of the Fear of the Lord, this is the beginning of wisdom, everything is built on living a life in absolute awe and amazement of God.

Integrity is the first pillar. It is being who you say you are and doing what you say you will do, it is The State of being Whole and Undivided. It is not being double minded, it is being confident and sure of what you believe, and why you believe it.

St. James said. “When you ask you must believe and not doubt….such a man [that doubts] is unstable in all his ways.” A person of Integrity is whole and undivided.

Zig Ziglar said,“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.”

The ancient philosopher Hericlitus said it this way,

“Your integrity is your destiny – it is the light that guides your way.”

In our study of the seven pillars, it just made perfect sense that Integrity be the first pillar. Nothing else really matters without integrity. We can call ourselves believers, Christians, church goers, or whatever the correct word is for today, but without integrity with have nothing.

Some of the best advice I ever received was from my father-in-law, to summarize he said, “It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what kind of house you live in, or what kind of car you drive, your word is your life, once you have violated your word, you have discredited your character. Your integrity is everything, you are only as good as your word.”

These are words that ring in my head, if I say that I am going to do something I am going to do it. To be fair to my self and many others, there was a time of learning this. I know like so many, I have said things that I couldn’t follow through on, and because of that, people couldn’t trust what I was saying. If I showed up, it was a bonus, if not then that’s probably what they expected anyway.

I see this a lot today. People say they are going to do something, and then without any regard to their word, they simply don’t follow through. It can be frustrating running a business and planting a church, but it’s something that our society seems to accept.
Our word is everything, and it is the first pillar of wisdom.

We show we lack wisdom when we don’t follow through with what we say we are going to do. 

Here are three simple benefits from being a person of integrity:

1. People of Integrity are Protected by the Lord:

He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. Proverbs 2:7

2. Those Who Walk in Integrity are Blessed:

For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it. Proverbs 2:21

3. The Lord Delights in People of Integrity:

The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity. Proverbs 11:20

It may seem fundamental to some, but I can tell you that there are many today that have no idea the benefits of living a life of integrity. In today’s relativistic culture, it has become a word that is foreign.

It’s as simple as being who you say you are, and doing what you say you are going to do.

“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.” Abraham Lincoln

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The Fear of the Lord: The Foundation

As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished a series at KeyStone Church about the 7 Pillars of Wisdom, based on the verse Proverbs 9:1, “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her 7 pillars.” 

A few years ago, I went on a journey trying to discover what the 7 pillars were. I simply went through the book of Proverbs asking the Great Teacher to reveal to me what they were. I didn’t read any other material other than the Proverbs and other books in the Bible. I truly wanted “fresh bread”, and didn’t want to be skewed by other writings (there is nothing wrong with reading other writers, I do it all the time) but in this case, I just wanted to hear what the Lord wanted to say from this adventure.

Over the next few blogs, I will be sharing what I felt like the Lord revealed as the 7 pillars of Wisdom. Of course this is not an exhaustive list. Nor is it the absolute 7 Pillars, this is just what I have discovered by reading and studying Proverbs.

Before anything can be built, it must have a sure foundation, I learned this first hand when my wife and I built our first home. We had used a less than reputable firm to lay our foundation, and within the first year of our home being built, the main beam began to sag because the foundation wasn’t poured correctly. Because of this, the drywall began to crack and separate from the celling…it was a mess, and it couldn’t be corrected from the top, it had to be corrected from the foundation.

Proverbs 9:10 says that “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom…” This is where I started. If the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom then it only makes sense to understand what the Fear of the Lord is. It is the Foundation on which the Pillars are built!

The Hebrew language uses pictures and images to tell a story about the words they are expressing. In the case of the Fear of the Lord, it is the Hebrew word YIRAH. It simply means “living a life in awe of God.” So every pillar is built on the premise of the awesomeness of God. Some people believe the God is up in heaven waiting to strike us down when we mess up. Grant it, God will correct and discipline those He loves, this is a good thing, but it is not in the way of hate or impatience. The Fear of the Lord is recognizing that He is absolutely Awesome, and He operates out of absolute Love. 

My wife and I took our kids to the Grand Canyon last summer. It was my first time seeing this amazing Wonder. When we drove up to it from the South, it didn’t look real, and when we got close to it and walked around the perimeter, it made us stop in astonishment and awe. This is the life we should be living about God; in wonder and awe. Our only response to this was worship. There were no words to express other than, “Oh, my God”, the best form of worship, expressing His name in absolute wonder and amazement.

When we talk about the 7 Pillars, we must understand that each one is built on the premise of the absolute wonder of God. Living a life of wisdom is living a life of worship. It is the foundation that wisdom is built on. 

“The Fear of the Lord (Living a Life in Awe of God) is the beginning of Wisdom”

How are you living your life? Is it in correct alignment with how He has called us to live, or are you living in a false fear of hate and anger, or do you understand the real meaning of the Fear of the Lord?

I hope you enjoy the next 7 blogs as we unpack the 7 Pillars of Wisdom!

The Seven Pillars: An Adventure in the Book of Proverbs

Several years ago my friend Steve Johnson and I were contemplating the mystery of Proverbs 9:1 “Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven Pillars” and we decided to go on a quest of sorts to find out what the seven pillars were. Without looking at what other’s had discovered, we wanted to explore the book of Proverbs and see what the Holy Spirit would reveal to us. We came up with different ideas and principals that we thought could be these pillars. Steve came up with his list, and I came up with mine. Many of them were the same, some were quite different, but nevertheless it was a blast going through Proverbs and just “discovering” the pillars.

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Just this past month, I launched a new series at KeyStone Church, simply put, “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: An Adventure in the Book of Proverbs” I have never taught what I had discovered many years ago. I felt the time was right, and so we embarked on the journey.

The feedback from our church has been amazing. There have been so many fun discoveries about the pillars, that have surprised us, and have taught us how to be people of wisdom.

One of our Prophetic voices in the church came up to me when we started the series and said, “Wisdom is needed in the church, especially the Western United States Church.” It affirmed what we were supposed to do.

I thought I would blog about the Seven Pillars and share our adventure with as many people that were interested. Again, I know there have been books, teachings, and lessons taught on the seven pillars for ages, and I am under no mis-conception that this is an exhaustive list. That is the beauty of the Word, some may see a different point of view than others. It’s like looking at a diamond, as the light shines through, the spectrum reveals so many different colors and shapes. But it is still a diamond. So, my revelation of the pillars may be different than what other’s have shared, but it is still wisdom, and still the Word.

Over the next few months, I’d like to share with you my adventure in the Book of Proverbs as we unwrap the mystery of the Seven Pillars. Like many others, I have read a chapter of Proverbs a day for many years, and always discovered new principals and truths that I had not seen before. I believe as we share what the Lord is placing in our hearts, we can all benefit and learn from it! My hope is that as the body of Christ we become people of wisdom, and not just carnal knowledge.

Anytime you build something, you need to have a solid foundation. My next blog will be on the “Foundation of Wisdom: The Fear of the Lord.” We will unwrap what the Fear of the Lord is, and how to live a life in the Fear of the Lord…

Stay Connected!

Finding Hurt. Finding Healing.

I just finished up a series at KeyStone Church called Finding Your Why. (Props to Simon Sinek.) In the context of our small church, I just related our why to the three simple statements that sum us up. Connect to the Creator, Connect to Community, and Connect to the Culture. It’s not rocket science and I am under no illusion that this is some new concept for church. It’s simply an Up, In, and Out approach with a little different lingo.

While I was writing the notes for the Connect to Community section, a revelation hit me. I said, “Community is where you get hurt, and community is where you get healed.” 

When Teresa and I came to Colorado to plant KeyStone Church, we heard the statement, “We just need real Community.” ALOT! Listening to the hearts and needs of the people were paramount to me, and so we shifted our model a bit, and began this adventure in Community.

Funny thing about community, as much as people say they want it, many of the same run from it! It took me a while to simply try and understand the absolute irony of community as it related to the body of Christ. You see, Community is a place of healing, and community is a place of wounding.

I didn’t think we needed both, but in fact we do. Then I thought about the community that Jesus surrounded himself with…yeah, if you know anything about the scrambled bunch of eggs that Jesus chose, then you’ll appreciate my point of view. 
Jesus never surrounded himself with guys with the “same DNA”.  He diversified the group just about as much as a leader can. And then made some pretty amazing disciples out of them.

This community that we strive to have in the church could use a little more diversity. I have heard it said that leaders should just put people around them that think like they do, or that want to see their vision come to life. Well, Jesus didn’t get that memo. He surrounded himself with men from all kinds of backgrounds, and using their own experiences and difference brought about such unity and love, that He actually wrote that this was the way people could tell that they were his disciples, not by the way they loved Jesus, but by the way they loved each other!

I have always thought that a great church would look something like Jesus’ band of misfits and dropouts. Unity in Diversity. Not Conformity. 

So, you want real community? Welcome, I can assure you of a few things:

You will be Wounded

You will be Healed

You will be Offended

You will Offend

You will be Corrected

You will be Taught

You will be Enlightened

You will be brought to Life.

You will learn to Love

You will Fight

You will Lose

You will Suffer

You will Gain

You will LIVE!

Community will change you life if you will let it. But it’s like anything. It takes time. Stick it out. Many people run from community just when they are about to enter the fun stage of healing, or teaching, or transformation. Remember the book, “Three Feet from Gold”?

News flash, in order to be healed, you have to first recognize you are sick. Community has a great way of bringing our shortcomings and sicknesses to the fore front. And it has a great way of bringing our healing to the same.

So look at the community you find yourself in. Listen, if you are hiding in a pew somewhere, then you are already decaying. Decay happens when something is left alone. There is no maintenance and change…it’s dead.

If you are willing to take the risk and get back into a community, then you are about to come back to life. I don’t know why Jesus set it up this way, he just did. You can’t grow alone.

C’mon, jump back in. Go get wounded, so you can be healed! Face your fears so you can come alive!

Riding with Brock Meyer

IN my last blog I told you all that one of my favorite things to do is ride my bike. I guess it comes from the sweet memories of freedom as a kid when I rode from morning until I heard my mom whistle for me to come home (She could whistle really loud). We lived in a typical midwestern blue collar neighborhood where the homes were neatly positioned on roads named for states, with gravel covered alleys splitting the blocks in half. My territory was a 4 block radius which my dad called “the neighborhood”. My imagination would run wild on my little red bike with a banana seat and oversized handle bars. I jumped ramps, made “skid marks”, and raced my friends for bragging rights. I would imagine my bike was a rocket ship, a race car, a submarine, or just about anything that would move. 

AS  I grew older, and like many things do, the love of riding was replaced with basketball, girls, working, and school. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I had the desire to get back to riding. 

Fast forward to my early 40’s. I had mountain biked in Indiana, or as people who live in the mountains say, “You trail rode in Indiana”, but my desire was shifting to a roadie. I had my eye on a Trek Madone. Every holiday, birthday, or special occasion I asked for gift cards to the Trek Store, and after about 2 years I was able to purchase a Trek Madone. It was gorgeous and I couldn’t wait to take it out on my favorite black top run. It didn’t disappoint.  

I said all of that to set the stage of how much I enjoy riding, and nothing for me compares to a great ride, except one thing…riding with a great friend.

Enter Brock Meyer.

This past summer, my children had the opportunity to visit their grandparents who live in NW Indiana, and I took the occasion to visit and set a ride up with Brock.

I couldn’t wait to see him and his beautiful family. He lives in a small farming community in Eastern Indiana where the roads are nice and flat and the corn never ceases to end. He pastors a small Quaker church in town, which by the way has doubled since he has been there. 

I’ve never met anyone who loves Indiana more than Brock. He has a love affair with anything Hoosier. But it’s more than Indiana, he loves life like that. He loves with everything. He lives fully alive! He and his wife teach their children to love and live the same way. 

I arrive at the Meyer home in the early afternoon, as I pull up, Brock is filming the encounter on his phone. This is just how he lives! We share some long deep hugs and soon were chatting like we hadn’t missed a beat. 

After showing me around the “manse”, we were getting excited about the ride. Changing quickly into our riding garb, and sucking down the protein shakes,  the butterflies began to flutter in my stomach, I was anxious to test my “Colorado lungs” out in the barely above sea level altitude of eastern Indiana. 

Brock showed me the route, and we were off. The pace was quick. about 18-19 mph, but I felt really good. We rode side by side for the first few miles, chatting, laughing, and loving the summer breeze pelting our faces. There is always a refreshing spirit when I am with him. I never feel like I have to be someone I’m not or pretend that I have it all together, I can be vulnerable and real and raw; never fearing of judgement or accusation. 

WE came to a busy highway where we began to “draft” one another. Each country mile we would switch places, he would take the lead, whereas I could coast and rest in the draft, and then I would do the same. Mile after mile, switching, drafting, laughing, and talking. The air was heavy, and typical for Indiana, but overall it was a pleasant summer evening. 

Our route was taking us down the neatly planted rows of corn, mile after mile was a sea of green, something that I miss seeing in Colorado. Corn, winter wheat, soybeans and alfalfa fields were our landscape.  A distant farm with the typical Indiana barns and silos, the smell of manure freshly spread on a field, the whip of a horses tail, and the constant  buzz of the cicadas remind me that I am in the heartland. 

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There were miles of silence as well, this is what makes riding with Brock priceless. As we listened to the serenades of the countryside, pleasantly mixed in with our cadence and breathing, time didn’t matter. My worries didn’t matter. The stress of pastoring was placed on hold, the worry of life dissipated into the horizon. This is what riding does for me, and it only multiplies when riding with a great friend.

Then he hit me with it. Brock is always good at asking questions, he always has great inquiries about life, ministry, fortune, love, and family. “Is your Joy level at 10 right now?” I thought about it, and yes of course it was, I was doing what I love to do with someone I love to be with. But I said, “True joy is being where I hate to be, sick, and with people I don’t want to be with, and the level still being at 10!”

I can’t be with Brock and his family and ride every day. I suppose like most things, we would take our rides for granted if we got to do it everyday. This is what makes it so special. It’s something to look forward to. It’s something I remember with great fondness and affection. 

Our ride was coming to a close. We were scheduled to meet his family at a well earned Italian dinner. As we finished our ride, there was a kind of silence. I was excited that I was able to spend the last few hours with him on our bikes, and yet there was sadness knowing that this could only happen about once a year. I’ll never forget what he said when we finally rode into the parking lot… 
“OH man! We averaged 17.8mph! I was really hoping to do 18!” That’s Brock Meyer. Living Fully Alive.

The conversation lingered long into the night. We laughed, talked, debated, and loved each moment. This is what riding with Brock Meyer is like. 

If you are ever in eastern Indiana, in a little town called Fairmont, look up Brock Meyer. Rent a bike and ride the country roads with one of the few people I’ve met with a true and pure lust for life. Let him ask you questions, and don’t answer too quickly, that’s not what he is looking for. He is deep, drink in every moment with him. Listen to his heart and the way his head whips back when he is enjoying a deep laugh. Watch the way he interacts with his wife and children, learn from the way he eats a meal. Everything he does is with passion. 

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Perhaps you’ll have the privilege of Riding with Brock Meyer.

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One of My Favorite Places

I spent last week in Indiana, my home for over 20 years, and I really wanted to ride while I was there (if you have read any of my blogs you know I love to ride bikes) and test my new Colorado lungs!

I didn’t have the necessary “bike luggage” to tote my Madone 1100 miles across the sky, so I stopped in at one of my favorite places…

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THE TREK STORE

I had gotten to know the staff and owner of the store over the years. Sometimes I would just stop in and say hi, browse the newest line of bikes, gear, and clothing, and usually end up buying a gadget or two. It was one of my favorite places. I was always greeted with a, “Hey Lon! Good to see you!” and then we’d talk about our latest rides, bonks, or wipe outs…

So, upon returning to Indiana, I stopped in once again, only this time I really needed a bike to ride for the week. I was hoping they would rent me a bike, but unfortunatley they don’t. I called and spoke to one of the guys named Alan, who said, “Come on in, we’ll work something out for you.”

I was stoked, not only did I get to see some of my buddies, I was excited to see what “work something out” meant…

I make the drive from Hebron to Schererville to hopefully pick up a rental or something…

I know it sounds crazy, but I just couldn’t wait to smell the smells that only a bike shop can offer, and see the new bikes, and here the chatter of people beginning their group ride. AHHHH The Trek Store!

I was met by a smiling Jake, as always; we talked about Colorado, the world class riding, (he’s a mountain biker) and the unending vistas of our state.

Then…hanging on the wall was a brand new Madone 5.2 roadie that he was approaching. I thought to myself, “there’s no way they are letting me rent that!” I was right, they didn’t let me rent it. THEY LET ME USE IT ALL WEEK FOR FREE! I was a giddy as a school boy! My mouth was going dry like the first time I had a crush on a kindergartener! Crazy! I couldn’t wait to jump on the 15 pound carbon wonder… even it’s paint job screamed cool!

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I leave the store elated! As always the team at The Trek Store never disappoint.

As I carefully packed the bike into my subcompact rental, I wanted everyone to experience this, the joy of having been treated so well, the happiness I felt every time I walked into that place, and the need to share it with others…

When I find a place like this, I want to share it with other people, I want others to experience the joy I feel, the smell, and excitement of what the product produces: Health, freedom, wind, grind, breath, exhaustion, muscle, but most of all a Story.

Do you have a story? Do you have a favorite place?

Recently my wife and I made the decision to get rid of satellite TV. We are saving money, but more than that we decided that rather than watch someone else’s adventure, (I loved the History channel, NatGeo, and any other channels that offered some out of this world adventures) we needed to have our own. 

For me, there’s nothing quite like riding a bike, and this time it was with my friend Brock. He is never out of great things to talk about…

I think I will pick this up later and share with you my ride across the corn dotted fields of Indiana with Brock.

 

There’s Something About Riding

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A couple of weekends ago, a couple of friends and I rode in The Starlight Spectacular,  a midnight ride through the Garden of the Gods and Old Colorado City. It was amazing. With literally thousands of other people riding that night, it was a nice reprieve from all the fires that we were experiencing in our city. The night air was cool and the din of all the riders just filled the evening with excitement and anticipation.

 

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For some reason I was nervous. I don’t know why; it wasn’t a race, I had nothing to prove, and I was among some of my closest friends. But still the butterflies were tingling in my stomach.

I think I was just so excited about what as about to take place. We were going to ride 22 miles in the darkness with only our little headlights to light the way, and the blinking red lights in front of us.

Within in the first 1/4 mile, there was a nice climb, I never really noticed the hill in a car, but on the bike, it was making it presence known. Once we got over that initial ascent, it was a sweet downhill where speeds were reaching close to 30 mph! With the darkness enveloping us, it was an exhilarating ride! I could only really see the white line in the road just a few feet in front of me, and it forced me to make quick decisions.

As the ride continued, we found ourselves on more lit roads, and main thoroughfares. After another fast descent down Garden of the Gods Road, we turned and were on our way to downtown Colorado Springs, and Old Colorado City.

I failed to mention that the ride didn’t start until 10:30pm so by now it was late, and yet there were people sitting in their front yards cheering us on!

After a quick stop to gobble up all the goodies that the vendors were offering, we were off again. I was finding a nice rhythm and my cadence was right on track for me. I was riding with two other friends that kept the conversation light and humorous.

There is something about riding…

Our last turn lie ahead and it led us up the Garden of the Gods once again. After another ascent we passed the Balancing Rock that took on an eerie form in the moonlight. We thought that the ascents were done, and it was all down hill to the midnight breakfast awaiting us at the finish line. We were wrong…

The end of the course was the toughest of all. The climbs never ceased to end, and I was convinced that at the next turn it would level out and the downhill must be close. But hey! This is Colorado! There are always going to be hills to climb! 

Living in Indiana for most of my life, this was new for me. It wasn’t like we didn’t have hills in The Hoosier State, it was they just didn’t last this long!

I was alone now, the darkness was so deep and rich, with my $40 headlamp to penetrate the inky night, it was just me and the bike and the hills. I didn’t want to miss any moment of what my senses were telling me. My legs were on fire, my mind kept telling them to suck it up, and don’t quit. I thought it comical that in just a few minutes I went from going almost 30 mph to struggling to go 8 mph! “You cannot quit, you cannot quit” was running through my mind…”When is the next descent? For cryin’ out loud!!”

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Finally, one more hill and I saw the “Kissing Camels” illuminated in the night, and I knew the end was near. In the distance I could hear the music and the sounds of laughing and conversations of all that had gone before me. I was close. Just stay focused. Now the descent was upon me, the air was crisp and cool, and suddenly all the climbs were well worth it. I was going as fast as could, and it was kinda freaking me out, but I couldn’t help it. “Enjoy this” I said. “Drink in every moment. Embrace your fear. Conquer it. Climb. Don’t quit.”

For me, there is something about riding. My senses are alive, and my soul feels released. It’s my catharsis. My release. It’s just me and The Lord and my bike.

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I reached the destination. We had a story to share, we shared it together and yet we all had different perspectives and take aways. The pancakes, yogurt and fruit left much to be desired, but the conversations were the main course.

There is something about riding…

 

 

Indiana Jones…My Hero

He’s one of my heroes, ok I know he’s not real, but if he were, I would want to be a lot like Indiana Jones.

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He is caught in this world of physical fact and scientific proof, and yet everyone of his expeditions require him to believe in something that you cannot prove. 

I find myself there many times. I have read, studied, written, practiced the methods and ideas written down by men who say.“This is the way we plant churches.” And yet like “Indy” I find myself walking this road completely by faith, believing what I believe without seeing it. Jesus gave us instructions on how to make disciples, not on how to plant churches, and it’s a good thing. We must find out what God is saying for each one of us as it applies to the culture we are in! There are no cookie cutter recipes for church planting…make disciples, then you’ll have church.

In The Last Crusade, Indiana is faced with one of his most difficult challenges. In order to save his dying father, he has a choice to make. Take the leap of faith to get to the chalice of life, or trust his eyes and let fear paralyze him. You know the story, he grabs his heart and takes the step. When he does, there is an unseen bridge that carries him to the prize, that saves his dad’s life…

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I find myself on that precipice often. There are so many people that are looking to me to offer hope, a better life, the gospel. My fear kicks in, I get paralyzed, the battle between what I can see, and what I know in my heart is raging. I have been here before and honestly there have been times the bridge wasn’t there; I have fallen, I have been wounded.

I find that I am here again, facing unspeakable fear that I am doing the right thing, I am leading my family and our church family at KeyStone. If I let myself “go there” I could be paralyzed by fear and not move at all. But we are moving, not just geographically to a new facility, but we are moving in the things our family can’t see.

I can’t explain it more than my Indiana Jones illustration. I sense it, I sense that there is the answer just beyond where my faith has ever been tested, just a little further, there is the prize…at least for now.

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Maybe you are like me and you have been stuck on that ledge for far too long. Take a risk, take a plunge, just take one small step. Trust what God is doing…there is another adventure just around the corner! Paul Cho said, “What you see with your two eyes is not reality.” Wow! Just trust God, take your faith where it has never been, there are treasures of life waiting!

This Church is Not For You

Everywhere I look I am bombarded with catchy slogans, and ad campaigns to get people to come to a building on a Sunday morning. Whether it’s win a giant screen TV, or come watch the pastor swallow a live goldfish (I actually did that), or some other ploy to get you in the doors, it’s everywhere!  Well, I’ve adopted a new way to grow a church, and that’s by NOT trying to grow a church!

If you all remember, there is a little verse in the Bible that says, “You are Peter, and on this rock, I WILL build my church.” This has escaped many of us as church planters. It seems to me that we are trying to build businesses, and not make disciples!  I see a lot of slick ad campaigns, with little or no focus on relationships, or transparency.  I remember Jesus told us what we should do, “Go and make disciples!”  There were no commands to build a church. That’s His job, ours is to make disciples. If we focus on making disciples will have some kick ass churches!

Whenever I meet with people, I NEVER invite them to church, it’s kinda my backwards growth program! I would rather have lunch, go on a hike, ride a few miles on my bike with them than ask them to church. Have them over for a BBQ and a beer before I invite them to church.  If they ever ask about church, (the gathering of believers on a Sunday morning) them I gladly tell them about what we do! More people are coming to KeyStone because of real relationships rather than some weird ad campaign, or me begging them to come and fill a seat. That’s consumerism, not discipleship. 

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So if you are looking for a church that tickles your ears, then this church is not for you. If you are looking for a church that has big spinning plates like an overstuffed buffet, then this church is not for you. If you are looking for a church that has all the latest videos and graphic designs, then this church is not for you. If you are looking for a church that has a huge building, cool lights, lasers and smoke, then this church is not for you. If you think you have it all together and there is nothing left for you to learn because you’ve seen it all and heard it all, I can definitely tell you, this church is not for you!

HOWEVER:

If you are looking for real relationships, transparency, clear vision, stability, messy, ugly at times, dysfunctional, a place to heal, a place to have a voice, a place to lead, a place to follow, and place to argue, a place to listen, a place to grow, a place to sit, a place to work it out. Then you may have found it. 

If you are looking for slow and steady, strong and fruitful, discipleship over consumerism, receiving and giving, diversity and unity, then you may have found it.

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 THE SLOWEST GROWING CHURCH IN AMERICA!

 

If you are looking for the lost, then you may have found them! That’s who we are looking for! 

The only requirement? Be jacked up and willing to admit it. Geesh, I do every day!

Why Don’t They Like Me?

Growing up in the denomination that I did, I always had a sense that I didn’t quite fit in. I tried to talk like, act like, and dress like all the people around me; but it just didn’t work.

Years later, I have realized that many of those people are still wearing the same clothes, talking the same way, and acting like they did 20 years ago.

But why is there this feeling in my stomach that I just want them to accept me? I just want their approval. Even though my hair touches my collar and my wife wears jeans!

What is in the human heart that seeks to win the approval of man, but dismisses the truest of approvals by Jesus? Me included!

I happened upon a Facebook page of where I spent a couple of years at college. All the same faces, all the same messages. And yet for an instance, I was jealous! Maybe it’s just the camaraderie, I wasn’t sure…

I’ve walked through years of healing, by letting go of the past, and forgiving those who just didn’t know better. But there is still this longing to be liked. Ever feel that way? It’s like the abused wife syndrome, just keep beating me, maybe one day you’ll like me. 

The way I grew up was you were accepted into the group if you dressed like them, and followed all the rules. Those who didn’t; just didn’t fit in, or they were dismissed as being backslidden and they just needed to “hit the altar” on Sunday, then repeat…every Sunday.

I can’t remember having one deep conversation about Jesus while I was in that place. NOT ONE! Weird isn’t it? Now we could study the Bible like no other, but we didn’t really know the man Jesus. It was all in our heads.

I was dating a girl in college and honestly thought she was the one. She was one of the main reasons I went to the college that I did. Anyway, she had asked one of our professors what he thought about me, as I had him in one of my classes. He told her that, “He doesn’t have the character that you have in your pinky finger.” WOW! So needless to say I didn’t meet her requirements…thank God. Ironically, I was working two jobs, carrying 18 hours credit, and doing the best I could. I didn’t have A’s, but geesh! Give a guy a break…I just wanted to be in the club!

SO what is it in us that wants to be accepted? I believe we are created this way. There is something in each of that wants to be approved. Our Father even knew this when He approved of His Son.

A healing moment for me came from my pastor. We were in a class that was developing leaders for discipleship groups. We had a time to come and pray after the class and I went to him. It was so simple. He said, “I am proud of you, son!” OK, for the next 1o minutes I wept on his lapel…it broke something in me. The fact that I hadn’t started a church, hadn’t grown a ministry, didn’t even have a decent job, and yet that didn’t matter to him. I was his spiritual son, and he was proud of me. It’s as if the heavens opened and I heard the same words Jesus heard, “This is my son, I am well pleased by Him!” Amazing.

So here I am today. Shaped by that moment, healed from all the man pleasing. Called to do something some didn’t understand…but I knew that I had heard God say “Go”. Even though I do things differently than my pastor, I know that I still hear those words in my spirit. I am proud of you, son.

Isn’t that what we all really want to hear?

I played Basketball in High School for a small Christian school in upstate New York. When I first started, I sucked…really sucked! But as I learned the skills and disciplines, I improved. I can’t remember a lot of the games, but I do remember one. We were playing a pretty good team and we got clobbered, but after the game my dad came up to me and said. “Man, I wish I could play like you! You are so quick and your dribbling skills are so good, you stay close to the ground, you’re really good!” That’s all I needed. I didn’t care about the score, the cheerleaders, the coach…my Dad said I was good

Isn’t that what we all need? This is your Dad, and I’m proud of you!