The power of Words

Words that strike chords amongst us all

If I were to say a few words to you, without reacting, be honest with yourself and tell yourself out loud what emotions they initiate:

  • Anger
  • Overwhelmed
  • SuccessfulWords
  • Accountable
  • Reasonable
  • Spiritual
  • Bad
  • Moral
  • Realistic
  • Good
  • Should’ve
  • Forgiveness

Raw emotions when unchecked can cause a lot of pain for some, reactions from others and even some extreme outbursts from a few.  If we were to be completely honest about this, then we would have said (aloud) that some, if not all, these words either had us thinking about something very emotional in our life or about someone else who caused a response in this.

Lance put this quote on his Facebook post that sparked this blog post from me: “When it comes to conflict, hurt and resentment, it is the one who has been wronged who has all the power, not the one who does the wrong. And our power comes in the form of forgiveness. When we forgive, we liberate ourselves to live the life God has given us.”

When we look around there is always someone else who has it better or who has it worse then we do – if you are really honest – that is a true statement.  There are some circumstances that have happened to some of us that can never be taken back – they just happened.   On this side of Heaven, I can never try to explain the “why’s” or the “why not’s” to you on why they happened.

If we are trying to keep record of right or wrongs in what other people have done, let us look first at the wrong that we have done to God – sin!  All of us are guilty, not one of us perfect.

Some verses to ponder before my next post:

  • Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses”
  • Matthew 6:15 “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
  • James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
  • Luke 6:27 ““But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,”
  • Colossians 3:13 “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Meditate on these verses, pray on them, ask the Lord to reveal events, memories and emotions and people that you have to give to Him.  Let go and Let God.

Come, let us reason together!  In my next post we will talk about the response that is required of God’s disciples.

Blessings,
Dante

 

 

The Church Millennial’s Want To Attend

Like it or not, the Millennial Generation is the future of God’s Church.  The good news is that they are passionate, socially active, engaged, and ready to fight poverty, human trafficking, and social injustice.

The bad news is that they are not seeing the local church in America as a place for them to engage in these areas nor do they see the Church leading the way and bearing Fruit in being Christ-like.

millen

‘We want more than a ‘lecture’ on Sunday and a group of people to sing songs and hold hands with. We want to be active and engaged in the world around us.’

For many years now, the local church has catered to the Baby Boomer population. Our methodology – the way we do worship, small groups, even the lighting and how our church buildings are set up – have largely been to please the Boomers. The reality, however, is that the Boomer population is aging and the church has already alienated many in Generation X.

In the past 15 years, some church leaders have finally realized they needed the younger generations but for the most part, the church tried reaching Millennial’s with the same methodology they used with Boomers or they hired consultants from marketing and advertising companies trying to “brand” Jesus with hip designs, sanctuaries that look like event centers, and tons of pre-packaged programs.

“Our generation has been advertised at our whole life, and even now on social media. Consequently, when a company isn’t being authentic with their story we can easily see through this. If the church isn’t giving you the whole story, if it’s sugarcoated and they’re trying to put on an act on stage, we see through this. This causes us to leave.’

Authenticity Not Hipster

Millennial’s are not interested in a “nice” Jesus with a permanent smile and open arms and they don’t want to hear more preaching with little follow through.  They’ve grown up hearing about Jesus and actually appreciate good doctrine and theology.  The problem is that they don’t see the local Church living and acting like Jesus.   

Millennial’s see the church smiling and putting on a good show but not being transparent with its raw and real underbelly. Millennial’s want Jesus the man. Jesus the prophet. The Jesus that took up the cross of the poor, the weak, and the marginalized in the name of God. The Jesus that challenged the establishment and paid the ultimate price.  They want leaders who talk less and act more. They want to see guys with tattoos and piercing welcomed with open arms. They want to hear about the churches struggles and frustrations.  They want to know that other people in the church are battling depression, anxiety, and self-mutilation.  They want the local church to stop building multi-million dollar campuses of comfort and exclusivity and start building homeless shelters, start working with drug addicts, and launching centers to start sending missionaries to work in our own backyards and inner cities.   

speaking of church buildings…

Smaller, Classic and Peaceful

The Barna Group recently did a study on the types of structures Millennial’s prefer and even I was shocked at the results.

Millennial’s want medium-sized, sanctuary type environments but with modern features and real elements of nature.  They prefer grass and water falls over painted murals and artificial cut outs.  They prefer a cross with subtle lighting and even a little stained glass.  They want the church to be an open place of connection and community during the week where you can meet someone for coffee, send a homeless person for a meal, or just come and have some quiet time of reflection.

‘I’d rather worship in a vintage, repurposed body shop with character and dust than in a spotless auditorium with a big stage and perfect rows of seats.’

Most church buildings today are places of action, not rest, and spaces to “do” rather than “be.” All our activities, of course, are designed to connect people with God and each other – which some Millennial’s hope for that, too—but many just want an opportunity to explore spiritual life on their own terms, free to decide for themselves when to stay on the edges of a church experience and when to fully enter in.

Think of Starbucks – you can get a cup of coffee, use the free wifi, read some free books, listen to music or talk with friends.

Clarity In Communications

Millennial’s will research you before ever coming to your Church.  Your website. Your Facebook page. Your reviews.  If any of this is outdated or reeks of advertising, strike one. If you don’t have pictures and videos of your church members, outreach projects and what your services look like, strike two.   When they do come to visit, they may not want to talk to someone at first or be pursued or asked 20 questions by your greeters.  They want clear signage on where to go and what’s happening.  They look more at visual cues and the visual aspects of your church and services more than generations past.

They also don’t want to fill out your “visitor card” because they know you are just gathering data and trying to add them to the mailing list.  The only piece of information a sizable majority of Millennial’s is comfortable sharing with a church is their first name (82%). Only half are willing to give their last names (53%). Just one-third are comfortable sharing their email address (33%). That means two out of three young-adult visitors do not want churches to have that information. (Barna)

Less Programs, More Organic Movements and Leadership

When Millennial’s decide to attend, they jump in with both feet. They don’t just want to show up and listen but they want to be active in the process.  Whether this is worship, service projects, teaching, etc.  They want an active role in their faith.  Whereas the Boomer Generation prefers to come and hear a sermon or approach faith like an academic course while being told when, where and what to do – Millennial’s want to be lead to Jesus, equipped, and unleashed to multiply or serve within a matter of months rather than years. (Sounds like Paul and the Early Church to me?) Many Millennial’s feel the church is too rigid and program oriented – a few people deciding when and where everyone else can serve and lead.  The Millennial’s want the church to be unapologetically a place of worship, learning, and experiencing community while also fostering, disciplining, and empowering new believers to organically lead and serve in Godly areas.

‘In generations like the Boomers, people attend church out of some moral obligation to do so. Millennials won’t have any of that. If it doesn’t provide meaning and value to them, they won’t participate. They’ll go and find something that does have meaning and value.”Shawn Williams
Campus Pastor

Decentralized Organization 

One of the biggest complaints in the business world of Millennial’s is their sense of entitlement.  The Boomer Generation had to pay their dues, serve out of obedience, and hope that one day, after years of loyalty, they would be allowed a voice or seat at the table.

According to David Kinnaman, who has done extensive research on Millennial’s and the Church, Millennial’s are not interested in playing it safe and earning their place at the table at some future date; they want a seat there now. Their desire is to be taken seriously and to be given real responsibility fast is something churches should take note of—and be eager to fulfill.

Paul and Timothy sometimes only spent a few days with early church planters before commissioning them.  This is why we have most of the New Testament today as the Early Church realized you need to mobilize people to action now and you can provide leadership/discipleship along the way.  Sadly, I have not run into very many churches that follow Paul and Timothy’s discipleship model, most follow the “pay your dues and let us vet you for a few years” model.

Intimate Discipleship

 Many young adults are struggling to find their identities and what they exist for. “What’s my purpose in life?”  Millennial’s want this presented to them in intimate, person-to-person discipleship or small conversational groups versus large, informal one-way lectures.  Millennial’s yearn to learn about the goodness of God and the goodness of being in community but they also want to talk about real issues – sexual purity, the LGBT community, why Christians tithe, how to love those who sin but not compromise Scripture.  Millennial’s want Truth in doctrine, theology and teaching and Grace in methodology, community outreach, and social justice.

This is an area Baby Boomers could really shine and pass the torch to the next generations. Currently, Boomers hold all the financial, intellectual, professional and relational capital in our society and instead of hoarding it and hoping to take it with them, this is an opportunity for the Church to leverage its elders and equip the next generation to lead the Church.

However, effective ministry to Millennial’s means helping young believers discover their own mission in the world, not merely asking them to wait their turn or serve as underlings. The Boomers have the opportunity to mentor and train thousands of new pastors and church leaders or assist young leaders in launching new churches and ministries.

Rather than trying slick advertising and marketing schemes to entice Millennial’s to come to church where they’re being told to sit down, be quiet and listen, maybe the local church should start equipping and empowering the Millennial’s to be the front line leaders and community evangelists while mentoring and discipling them along the way?

This Sunday, take a look around your church and see how many 18-30 year olds are attending. Because if we don’t have Millennial’s, we won’t have a church in the future.

 – Lance (who is not a Millennial)

Words…

part 2

colossiansOne day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. 

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ she heard whispered. ‘I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!’ and, ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much,’ were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. ‘Were you Mark’s math teacher?’ he asked. She nodded: ‘yes.’ Then he said: ‘Mark talked about you a lot.’

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket ‘They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.’

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’

Chuck’s wife said, ‘Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.’

‘I have mine too,’ Marilyn said. ‘It’s in my diary’

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: ‘I think we all saved our lists’

That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.

So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late. And One Way To Accomplish This Is: Forward this message on.

Colossians 4:6English Standard Version (ESV)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

The Mark of a Mature Christian

According to the Book of James

moodyGod’s will is for every man to grow (Hebrews 6:1)

  D.L. Moody said “Character is what you are in the dark”

  • -A mature Christian is positive under pressure
  • -A mature Christian is sensitive to people
  • -A mature Christian has mastered his mouth
  • -A mature Christian is a peacemaker not a troublemaker
  • -A mature Christian is patient and prayerful

 

Four Marks of a Disciple

  • Discipleship growth means two things: increasing the number of disciples and the depth of disciples. God never intended for his church to be a mile wide and an inch deep. Since Christ has clearly defined our goal as discipleship growth let me give you four marks of a disciple. Check and see how you are doing in these four areas.
  • 1. Disciples are maturing in their faith. They are growing. They are in the Word. They are not on cruise control. Each day they live in expectancy of what God is going to do through their witness and life.
  • The original disciples grew in their knowledge and experience with the Lord. Spiritual maturity was part of Christ’s goal for the original disciples and for us today. Jesus was very intentional about helping His disciples grow into fully developed and devoted mature followers. Are you maturing? Are you growing in Christ? The question churches need to ask is, “are we developing disciples?”
  • 2. The second mark is ministry. Disciples care and serve other people. Jesus was very intentional in training His disciples in the lifestyle of being a servant. As we help people grow spiritually, we can only do so by helping them understand the role of serving. A non serving Christian is a contradiction in terms. Are you serving the Lord?
  • 3. The third mark is mission. Jesus’ disciples knew their mission. They were to make disciples. Jesus not only taught this He modeled it for the disciples. As a disciple we are on mission. The mission becomes our passion.
  • 4. The final mark is multiplication. It is quite obvious that the original disciples understood that multiplying and reproducing disciples was the method Christ taught them. This method turned lose will evangelize the world. Not addition but multiplication.
  • Jesus developed a handful of disciples who would reproduce or multiply more disciples who would reproduce more disciples…The ultimate mark of discipleship growth is when a disciple reproduces another disciple.
  • How are you doing in these four areas?  We are on mission.  Let’s live like it!

Romans 12:1-2English Standard Version (ESV)

A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

Colossians 3:1-17English Standard Version (ESV)

Put On the New Self

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[c] In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d]with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

WORDS

Watch Obey Repent Do to Serve

LEGACY MANUALWORDS

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. -Frank Outlaw

 

WATCH (Watch your words)

Ephesians 4:29-32English Standard Version (ESV)

 

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

1 Peter 3:8-12English Standard Version (ESV)

Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life  and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.  But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

 

OBEY (Obey God’s Word)

Deuteronomy 4:1English Standard Version (ESV)

Moses Commands Obedience

4 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules[a] that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.

 

James 1:22English Standard Version (ESV)

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

REPENT

Colossians 3:12-14English Standard Version (ESV)

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Romans 12:1-2English Standard Version (ESV)

A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

 

DO (DO TO)

Luke 6:31English Standard Version (ESV)

31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Matthew 7:12English Standard Version (ESV)

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

 

SERVE (SERVE OTHERS)

Philippians 2:4English Standard Version (ESV)

4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 5:13English Standard Version (ESV)

 

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Vision

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.”

“Where there is no vision, there is no hope,” – George Washington Carver.

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision,” – Helen Keller.

visionVision gives leaders a purpose and road map to where they need to be, to go, to dream, and to end up.  A church that follows a leader who uses vision to have others take ownership in that vision is both humble and God-honoring, with structure and purpose.  In the book Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels quotes Romans 12:8,  “the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[a] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (ESV).  He states that when we read this, those of us that have the gift of leadership better sit up and take notice, and we better lead with diligence.  “Why, because the Church, the bride of Christ, upon which the eternal destiny of the world depends, will flourish or falter largely on the basis of how we lead.”

Through Jesus Christ, who is the Author of our salvation, we find the hope in him and through His Spirit to boldly approach his task to go and make disciples and to preach and teach the good news.  In addition, we are to train others to love, to be in community and to carry each other’s burdens, and to be in relationship with others.  An effective leader can dream and cast vision, but is doomed if he/she cannot convey this vision to others in such a way that they fail to take ownership in that vision.  Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.”  Bill Hybels states, “They can’t focus, can’t reach their goal, can’t follow their dream.  An older translation says, “Without vision, the people perish.”  Hybels says “Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.”

In Men of Faith, we worship, read scripture, pray and carry each other’s burdens.  We created an environment that yields to the truth: God’s word!  We share with each other our most honest feelings, and we have set a tone that trust is there and what is said there stays there.  In other words, we see community and relationship.  The vision that Men of Faith has is to bring men to the Word of God, pray to God and watch the Holy Spirit change men.  The word of God encourages, convicts and comforts men in their daily lives.

In Legacy Dad, both Lance and I have a heart for men and women and our hope is to use the blog as a tool to share God’s word and our life experience through ministry.  Also, to challenge and use biblical truth in application.  Our vision is to see this ministry turn into a full-time ministry using our gifts and talents to make a difference in others.  The purpose of Legacy Dad is to share real men’s journeys, Biblical-based wisdom and the latest research on what works in life – in easy to read weekly life lessons and devotionals.  We are transparent, Bible-based and give you the latest advice on manhood, parenting, marriage and faith.

imagesOur hope is that we can equip as many men, fathers and parents as possible and create a generation of leaders that leave a real legacy for their children and the generations to come

How would I measure success in ministry with the vision of its leaders:  1) What fruit is it bearing?  2) Do others own the vision?  3) Are others being listened to?  Are they sharing their fears and desires with their leader? If so, does the leader weigh those and incorporate that into the path of their vision? 4) Most importantly – is the vision pointing others to Christ?  If not, why not?

Blessings,

Dante

Unstuck: The Power For Change

My wife had her hands over her face, tears streaking down the sides of her cheeks.  She was sobbing.  “You have to file for divorce and move on with your life.”  The counselor told her. “Think about your children. At this point in his life, he will never change. I’ve seen this scenario hundreds of times and they never change. If you take him back, it will all be the same”   That was 15 years ago…

photo-1444828589547-4ee6f3cb625a

I stared at the guy as he sat looking down at the ground shaking his head.  After an uncomfortably long silence he finally looked up “I know I need to change these destructive habits, but it’s too hard!” He yelled at me. “I don’t even want to pray about it because God may give me opportunities and I don’t want to deal with this!”

How do people change their lives?  How do you move from desperation to happiness?  How do we get unstuck and move forward?

Continue Reading »

Final Charge to Legacy Dads

(and to Timothy)

Final Charge to Timothy

1timothy1 Timothy 6:11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Legacy Dads (and to those who journey it is to be this man of God)

Things you can do right now to start this process:

  • Prayer (ask for the Lord to reveal those things in you that need to change)
  • Repent
  • Pursue God (through prayer and the reading of his word)
  • Pursue Godliness (God is holy!  Put your own sin nature to death daily)
  • Pursue Faith (Believe and receive the Holy Spirit and God’s testimony)
  • Pursue Love (how do others see Christ through your behavior and attitude – do these need to change?)
  • Pursue Endurance (train yourself in the way that God’s word tells us to go)
  • Pursue Gentleness (this does not mean to be a whimp) – Be pure in heart and encourage, comfort and urge those
  • If you are a believer, a disciple, a legacy dad THEN Fight!  Fight the good fight of faith because Ephesians 6 is not lying about spiritual warfare
  • Take hold of your faith!

TimothyIn all that you do, let the Word of Christ dwell in each of you richly.

Be blessed!

 

Dante