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I am doing an 8 part blog regarding the reasons we possibly have faithful people, but not fruitful. If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

The second reason people are unfruitful is because they are controlled by the desires of the flesh. It might be the inability to control sexual lusts, compulsive behavior, laziness, etc. (Romans 8:5, Psalms 63:1-3, 1 Cor 10:11)

If we chose to live by the sinful desires, than we have literally set ourselves up for failure. If we want to give ourselves to such desires, we have no life to give to people.  If you are serving in ministry, be aware that a compromised leader creates a compromised church. A compromised church leads to a compromised result.

Have you sat down recently and examined the fruit of your life?

There are so many people that are faithful but unfruitful when it comes to ministry/leadership. Showing up is great! Being there when you have that commitment is awesome! But I think we have lumped being faithful with being fruitful.

When I was growing up we had a grapevine in our backyard. It provided shade, it was an awesome plant. But year after year we never had grapes. The plant wasn’t dead, as a matter of fact you would think it was thriving. But a thriving plant doesn’t mean it’s a producing plant.  I later found out that it’s because you have to trim and prune the plant in order for it to produce fruit, thus being unfruitful. Producing fruit takes work.

So why are there people that are faithful, but unfruitful? I believe there are 8 characteristics of an unfruitful soul.

1) Having a lack of knowledge of the Bible (Hose 4:6)
When we have a lack of knowledge of the Bible, we have a lack of knowledge of who God is. The Word is one of the many ways that the Lord will speak to us, and if we ignore that, we’re ignoring the very person that will help us grown in our faith.  It’s a compromise. In vs 7, The Priest exchanged God’s Glory for something disgraceful.

It  becomes dangerous when we start trading what God wants for our lives with other things.  We get comfortable with putting something else in front of Him.  And the end result is we’re thriving in action, but unfruitful in growing and producing. Jesus wants to be what we want, and He does not want to be our #2.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

I don’t like the word tradition. I’ll admit I have traditions, but when it comes to church stuff I can’t stand the word. Throughout my ministry life I’ve met too many people who love their traditions no matter the cost.  Tradition is comfortable. Tradition is safe.

I believe that churches that are not married to traditions of yesterday are paving the road for success  tomorrow.  And before you get angry let me say I actually have a few church traditions that I love that I grew up with. But I’m not sure they relate to the generation of today. For example:

  1. I grew up with a Sunday Night service. It was a smaller service (“Venue”  is what it’s called in post modern churchology)
  2. Wednesday night family night. I loved have youth as a teen and the memories of my parents talking to people after church (especially in the summer) brings back happy thoughts.
  3. Potlucks: Who doesn’t love to eat?

But the danger in our churches becomes when we make our childhood traditions the norm for the next generation. What worked back then, may or may not, work now.  I understand there are some churches that still have family nights once a week, still have potlucks, still have sunday night services, but they’re all typically smaller congregations.

So then, do you believe traditions of old has their place in the church today? Why or why not.

This week I had the opportunity to attend the Orange Tour conference and I thought I would share my take aways.

I heard and dialoged about the words we speak. The value of words. We’re giving only so many hours with our kids. But it’s true with every one we know; parents, kids, brothers, sisters, spouses, and friends.

Here are some points that were GREAT reminders.

1) When you see how much time you have left, you tend to get serious about the time you have now.
Psalm 90:2 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

2)When you see how much time you have left, you tend to take what matters more.
For our church settings, this is valuable. Creating environments where people want to know more. And let me step up to my soap box for a minute. We must make our sunday mornings creative for kids, teens, AND adults. There is nothing wrong with adding creative elements to even our adult services to help create the atmosphere that Jesus is ALIVE. After all, we are celebrating the fact that Jesus lives.

3) When you see how much time you have left, you tend to value what happens over time.

The whole point of the conference was WORDS OVER TIME = DIRECTION.
I’m reminded this week that people are not around forever. When my mom had passed away 5 years ago I was thankful that I had a great relationship, always talking with love and compassion. There were no regrets. As my dad is getting older I’m reminded that there will be a day he is no longer around. I”m not going to get hung up that he will forget my birthday or tell him something like a billion times, only for him to forget. I want my words to build him up, even when when I’m not built up. I want my words to matter now!

For every one word of encouragement, there are 7 words of negativity. We have the opportunity in our families, friends, and ministry to change that ratio.

So, in what ways can you encourage someone this week?

Wednesday nights (with the exception of Friday Family nights) are probably one of my favorite nights of the week. Every Wednesday I work long hours to make our student ministry a success, along with a great quality team. However, tonight being Wednesday, was a bit different.  It was off for me.

We had a great turn out.

It was our first Parent Open House where parents can get a taste of what we do.

The games were a hit.

There was laughter.

The message was well received.

But something was off.

A couple days ago on a Monday night, while sitting in a hotel room the night before a conference, I found out that my first youth pastor had passed away.

(Paul had a very rare disease, called Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. He was diagnosed less than a year ago and was not given long by the Doctors once the diagnosis was confirmed.)

Paul left behind a wife and a 13 year old daughter. It was Paul that had a huge impact on me serving in youth ministry. It’s one of the reason I’m still in youth ministry to this day.

I remember specifically riding my bike on a busy HWY when I didn’t have a ride, just to go to youth or some event.

I remember Paul and Tammy taking me home, which wasn’t even in the same city where he lived.

I don’t remember a single sermon.

I vaguely remember our events.

Camps are a distant memory.

…….But I remember him.

I remember being at his house playing games.

I remember laughing over Round Table pizza.

I remember playing basketball with him.

I remember wresting with him.

I remember watching the 49ers with him.

20 plus years later and I’m doing what Paul use to.  He knew that it was about relationships, not the program. We who serve in any capacity of ministry can get lost in the program. We often feel that we must have the best small groups, the best games, the best message, the best videos, the most twitter followers, the most Facebook likes, and the list can go on and on.  But if you don’t have the relationship with the people you serve, then you’re serving the program itself.

Serving the program instead of people will end badly. People don’t remember programs, they remember people.

On my 30th birthday, my wife and sister in-law (Amber) threw a surprise birthday party. They all met in the fellowship hall of a church I was serving at.The church, old friends, new friends all came to visit. They even worked hard to make a video of old pictures, which also contained a video recording of Paul. I hadn’t seen or heard from Paul in 8-10 years. It meant the world to me!!  I was sitting there and there was a man, my first youth pastor that took the time to record a Happy Birthday video…for me. I felt honored.

Fast forward 6 years and I had the opportunity to meet up with Paul as we were driving through Washington. He had actually found me on Facebook.

2:07pm
Hey James!

Been thinking about you guys for a long time and wondering how you are doing! Glad I finally found you! Drop me a line, K?

I introduced him to Rachel, and Isaac. GREAT re-uniting. I felt like we were able to speak encouragement to each other.

James! I’m so glad we were able to reconnect and get together for a few minutes today! It was great to see you and meet your wonderful family… I was trying to remember – how long had it been?

Move forward another 1.5 years and I told him I was thinking about accepting an offer at a church in Oregon.  Chatted back and forth via Facebook.

It would be wonderful to have you in the NW (Rainy side;)I’ll be praying that God would give you peace and this is God’s will for you life and ministry!

Paul had helped me navigate the decision to c0me to the Northwest. I remember us chatting about hanging out again.

Once coming to the Northwest the sickness began to overtake his body, his functions, and his ability to communicate. I was told it wasn’t looking good. So I made the hour drive to visit my youth pastor.
One of the hardest things to see was a guy who was extremely outgoing and a role model in a sense, not being able to communicate like he had before, and worst, his body not working at all. We chatted and talked memories. We laughed. He would take every muscle in his body to try to smile with the biggest grin.
After visiting him I walked to my car and wept for God to heal my youth pastor.
I don’t remember his sermons, or the program. But I remember Paul Hansen.  My friend. My Youth Pastor. and my role model.
His last comment to me via Facebook:
“He trusts us sometime to use our “sanctified” choice – cuz He knows that whatever we choose He can make something with it.”
This has been one of the most hardest post to write.
 Goodbye Paul. I love you and will miss you!!

This will not be a popular post.  This post will offend people. However, as I look at the bible Jesus made several comments that offended people.  Which leads me to be o.k. with stating biblical truth, even if rubs people the wrong way.

I’ve seen more and more people that “walk with the Lord” boast in their sinful lifestyle and I’m wondering how Jesus feels about all this.

I sin. You sin. We all sin. That alone is what we’re born into, a sin nature. However, there is a danger when we start becoming o.k. with our sin and boasting in our actions. Here are some examples that will offend you…

If I am an alcoholic and drinking my sorrows at the same time walking with God saying don’t be a hater…

If I am a homosexual and living a homosexual lifestyle while walking with God saying don’t be a hater…

If I am gambler and walking with God and saying don’t be a hater…

If I am an adulterer and walking with God saying don’t be a hater…

Don’t be hater?

Like I said, If you have an issue being an alcoholic and you’re saying it’s o.k and calling those around you a hater  for calling you out is a dangerous place to be in.

(I don’t believe as a christian, we should be calling non-christians out on their sin)

If you’re a gambler and you’re saying help me, I’m alongside you to encourage you.

There is a HUGE difference in someone walking with God with a sinful heart while walking in repentance. vs walking with God with a sinful heart while walking in boasting about the sin.

In Ezekiel chapters 12-14 I am reminded that God is a merciful God full of Love. And like a Father, will not put up with a those who continue to walk in the family (christian) only to proclaim and justify a rebellious (sinful) lifestyle.

As we justify our lifestyles we may fool the world around us, but there is still a God will take action.

What are your thoughts?

 

Our son is now six years old. I am marveled at the changes I see in him everyday. In the busyness of building furniture, being a father, a husband, a pastor, and a friend I must carve out time to lead my wife and son into a growing relationship with Christ.  I am not perfect. I’ve made mistakes. And for me, it’s an everyday necessity to ask God to come into my life and have him be in control of every thought and action.

Here are some pivotal questions for Christian couples to ask each other for a healthy family.

1. How do you feel we are doing in expressing our own personal faith in Jesus Christ as a living reality in front of our child (Children).

2. Are we praying for our children’s future and for the mates God is preparing for them? Allow me to say, that when I was a child my grandpa would pray for my future wife (Rachel), every time he prayed for the meal.  It does matter.

3. Are we sometimes allowing our children to play one of us against the other, and if so, what adjustments do we need to make to avoid that?

4. Do our children understand that our marriage relationship is the priority in our family?
5. How are we each doing individually and together as a couple on building our spiritual lives?

6. Is the atmosphere of our home one that is filled with joy and expectation? if not, what adjustments need to be made?

7. What are we doing to make sure that we are growing together, as opposed to growing apart?

What questions would you add?

 

 

 

With building furniture with my hobby,  being a husband, a pastor, a father, and a friend

There were a few subjects I was thinking of blogging about today, but couldn’t decide on just one. I poured myself a cup of coffee, (with Vanilla creamer and whip cream, sprinkled with Cinnamon) and walked out to my back patio.

A thriving plant that I had transplanted from the front yard to a pot for the patio caught my eye. It had started to bloom some bright colors and I had thought that placing it in the backyard would make it a nice bright focal point. However, the plant is wilting and not looking so healthy.

I starred at this plant and I started thinking……

You and I were ultimately created for one purpose, to worship God. He also created you to be you, and me to be me. I’m not sure if it’s what God intended, but we have specific churches that appeal to the individuals of our world. There are the traditional, the contemporary (is that phrase still being used?), the “non-denominational”, and etc; each to serve the different person that make up the Church.

Now for those inside the ministry and part of the leadership team, we see a little more of the “behind the scenes” of church. We truly see how staff conflicts are dealt with, how people are treated, and several other elements that make up of the church.  This I believe, changes my perspective just a little.

When you are attending and serving (and yes, you need to be serving), all what that church is about either feeds you or does not. But listen, if you are not serving you are not adequately giving that church an opportunity to feed you!!

Back to the plant. The difference of the backyard is more sunlight. The plant calls for partial sun. I had taken a plant that was created for shade and placed it in an environment where it didn’t belong. I’m watering it, I’m doing everything I can to make it work, but it’s still wilting.

If you are in an area that is different than what you are created for, perhaps you’re created for a different environment and here is nothing wrong with wanting to thrive. Sometimes we think it will be better in one place, but through time and trying to maintain, we begin wilting.

A thriving body of believes will have more impact in our communities and in our cities. Attend the church where you know that you will bloom because it’s the setting you were meant to be in.

Thoughts, leave a comment. :)

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve noticed that there are several books on Christianity, which is probably a good thing because I think everyone at one point or another asks the BIG question: What is the point of all this?

Check out Luke 8:45; And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”

Jesus was on his way to perform a healing at the house of a man named Jairus, but He was interrupted by a woman who touched Him. At that moment Jesus stopped everything and exposed her act by asking who touched him. This woman has TRIED EVERYTHING to get better, to get healed.

What can we learn from a woman who has done everything she could-fighting all the obstacles in her in order to come in contact with Jesus?  We can learn that our purpose is the same; to do everything we can to be with Jesus.

How would life be different if this was our purpose?

For the last couple of weeks I’ve taken a new approach to the way I journal, using the S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer). If you don’t know about S.O.A.P. you can check it out here.

Today I was reading 1 Samuel 17. The story about David and Goliath. If you’ve been brought up in the church or went to church when you were a kid you know the story, or the gist of it; Small guy beats big guy.  End of story.

But in reality, it’s not the end of the story.

For a minute, let’s leave the story and think about where you are at, spiritually and in life.  I think of the things that my wife and I have been through. I think of the hard places in ministry, I think of all the times I ask God, “Why”? And I think of all the times I yell, stomp my feet, pound my fists at God and shout, “really:!

David was asked by his father to take some items to his brothers and check in on them. When he was seeing all that was going on (war, a challenge by the Philistines) David simply started asking questions to “the men standing near him” (v26). All he was doing was trying to figure out the status of the situation. His brothers didn’t think he belonged there, they were angry.

When there are negative people around you who think they know better, move on.

I love what it says in vs 3o; “He then turned around to someone else and brought up the same matter.”

Not everyone will be pleased with you for getting involved. I wonder if they were looking at David as the least of them. He didn’t belong there (according to their eyes) We often look at people through our own lens instead of the perspective of Christ. How many times do we think that someone can’t participate in ministry because we have our OWN standards.  And if they don’t line up to those standards they are not allowed to be involved.  I wonder how many time as pastors, we miss our David’s, and hence missing out on victory in the places we’ve been praying for.

When word got to Saul, he too had his doubts. vs 32; “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” Again, Saul was looking through the perspective of the world.

The Aw Ha moment….

Then David remembers some of the hard things he had to deal with. When he was tending the sheep. A bear came. He fought the bear killing it. What do you think was going through his mind?   I bet he was asking “are you kidding me?  How come I just can’t tend the sheep without being threatened. What have I done to bring this about?”

Sound familiar? You’re going about your day and something happens that knocks you off your feet.  The day does not turn out the way you expected.

Then it happens again.

This time a lion came.  Come on already. David kills the Lion. Already there two separated incidents that would cause most to give up or question their calling.

In addition, David already does the impossible. He killed these two obstacles with his bare hands.

David then tells Saul, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.

Then Saul allowed David to fight the giant and we know the rest of the story.

David was merely a boy, in comparison to the rank of the Israelite army. But He knew his place with the Lord, which provided the confidence needed to beat the enemy. An enemy that event the strongest and biggest of men were afraid of.

The world outside God’s kingdom looks nothing alike in shape or size. God uses the least of humanity to fulfill His promises. And the least of these really can not be defined by you us.

God wants you to be part of something bigger. Don’t fall into the trap of what those around you try to dictate who you should be.

So here’s the question:

What paws are in you life? What is it that appears to be negative or dangerous when really, it’s preparation. I don’t think the lion or the bear was meant to destroy the sheep or David, but was meant for preparation for the day that God had appointed him for his true calling.

After David won his case and defeating Goliath, David wasn’t the only one that won that day.

 

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