Thursday, February 23, 2006

Gathering of Bloggers

Had a cool time today, hanging out at the Nile with a fun mix of bloggers. There was unfiltered, honest and lively discussion about everything from technology and the church to churches and seminaries who are stuck in the '80's to...well, it's safe to say that we covered a lot of territory...

Today's Coffeehouse Ratpack:

Mark Bjornholm - This was my first opportunity to meet Mark in real life, so that in and of itself was very cool. He is a genuinely nice guy, has a great heart for serving, and currently has many irons in the fire. I hope to get together again with him, soon. Mark also blew me away today by handing me the audio version of one of the books on my wishlist: "Now Discover Your Strengths!" by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton. How cool is that? Thanks again, Mark!

Jason Simmons - Was crackin' me up, as usual, today. Jason is definitely the man with the word pictures! His story is one of serving on a church staff, coming from a family in ministry, wandering away from God for a time, working in the world of business, and coming back to God with a fresh heart for ministry. A standout quote - "Ministry for me now is a passion rather than just a position." Great stuff.

Anthony Coppedge
- Where do I begin? It's always a blast hangin' out with Anthony. Always challenging, passionate and fun. And some fun facts to know and tell that I did not know before today - He plays the drums and a few more musical instruments, as well! Who knew? Anthony is the most knowledgeable guy in media ministry today, and has a heart for helping churches become all they can be to reach people for Christ. He was on a roll, today and was giving me plenty of stuff to laugh about. Look for some cool stuff in the works from him in the days ahead...

Thanks, Mark, Jason and Anthony for a great time of dialog, laughter and encouragement. I'm sure we'll be converging on the unsuspecting coffee shop again, soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Slippery Excuse

(Revised, 11:02 p.m.)
I know a very sharp guy who was at one time on staff at a large and exciting church, but who later left to plant a new church. When I met him, he had already raised thousands of dollars and recruited several team members from across the country to be on the team. He had also won the admiration of the "funding crowd" of organizations and churches in the area. His time at the big church had apparently carried a lot of weight.

But there was a slight problem, and he really had been struggling with it when I had the opportunity to talk with him about it. The problem was that he had a dollar amount in mind that he felt he had to have before he could plant the church. I remember him telling me that if he couldn't raise "x" amount of dollars by a certain date, he wasn't going to commit to going any further. He had it in his mind that there was only one way to do what he was called to do, and that it took "x" amount of dollars to do it. Sure enough, when he didn't raise "x" amount (although he had at least half of it) he pulled the plug on the whole thing!

Did he do the right thing? Maybe. But not necessarily.

The reason for not continuing? A slippery excuse that may sound surprising:

"Where God guides, He provides."

The reason that this is slippery, of course, is because it is actually a true statement. Where God guides you to do something, He most certainly provides. So how is it that this phrase can become an excuse?

It becomes an excuse when the "what" and the "when" are in the wrong hands. When we narrowly define what "provides" means and we decide when we should receive the "provision." When we tell God what it is He is supposed to provide and when He is supposed to provide it in order to accomplish what He wants to do, we're on shaky ground.

It is God who says, "I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly." (Psalm 75:2) Quick reminder: He chooses, not us.

Often when people use this expression, they are simply talking about money. It goes something like this: "If God doesn't provide the money for this [you fill in the blank], He must not be in it, or we're not the right people to do it."

"Good grief, how safe do we have to make the plan before we trust God to provide?" I mean really, how many established churches raise their entire budget for the year before they begin to spend any of it, become good stewards, do what they're supposed to be doing and trust God for the rest?

Sometimes God provides like he did for Moses, where He opened up the whole blessed Red Sea before anyone took a step to cross it. Other times God provides like he did for Joshua, where the dudes carrying the ark have to be waist deep into the water before anything happens.

I'm not discounting the importance of planning, budgeting and wisely considering the cost of a task before entering into it. (Luke 14:28-30) To not do that would be unwise. I'm only talking about what we originally have in mind and how it sometimes contrasts with God's ultimate idea of what it is going to look like and what it is going to take to make it happen.

God sometimes unveils the story slowly, revealing and providing what is needed for this stage only. I believe that Jesus taught us to pray "give us this day our daily bread" instead of "give us this month our monthly bread" for a reason. He wants us to follow Him daily. He wants us to trust in Him more than His provision.

Of course God provides where He guides, but He doesn't always do it before you're feet are on the trail-sometimes it's not until you get around the next rock. But if you didn't go around the rock, you'd never discover the provision, and the journey around the rock might just help you to realize that the provision didn't look anything like you thought it would.

Sometimes where God guides, He simply guides some more, and His guiding is the provision.

So what does God provide? What does that look like? Money? Sometimes. But sometimes it comes in other ways that can help validate His calling, guiding, and shaping of things into His better plan.

I'll share some of those ways in another post...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"What's Your Excuse?" & Other Matters

First, I have to point you to a great post by Perry Noble.

I've had pages of stuff just sitting in my "un-wired-er analog pda mindmap," (or my blog in hand) for a while, now, and Perry's post is a great spring board for me to share it with you. Check out his post here. You may have to scroll down to find it. The title is "Stop Complaining About What You Do Not Have."

Go read it and then come back. Really, go ahead. I'll wait....

Hey, welcome back.

Can I just say that I couldn't agree more? There are a million excuses for not doing what God calls you to do, and a million more for not completing what He calls you to do. I've heard them, seen them and used them myself more times than I care to admit.

I'm going to talk about some of those excuses over the next few posts. And we'll start with one that may surprise you. In fact, it sounds more like "doctrine" than an excuse. Should be fun.

But before I get to that, let me take care of a little "house keeping:"
  • Anthony and a gathering of bloggers: In the comments on the post, "New Friend At The River Nile," the ever fun and challenging Anthony Coppedge threw out some dates for getting together for coffee. The suggested date, time and place? Thursday, Feb. 23rd. 11 AM @ the River Nile. I think it's a "go," so if you'd like to join us, drop me an email ( johnny[AT] or just leave a comment here. Or I guess you could just show up. It is a coffee shop, after all. :-)
  • Valentine's Dance & My Growing Number of Keys: Because we are renting the Roanoke Recreation Center for our Weekend Worship Experiences, I have been given keys to the building. Originally, there were 3 (Outside door, classroom, and storage). We soon discovered that we were unable to adjust the lighting in our worship area because the controls were in a locked room within another locked room. When we were serving at the Roanoke Valentine's Dance (a hoot, by the way), I asked for keys to those areas, also and got them. When the Parks and Rec Director handed me the additional keys (now a total of 5), I just held them all up, laughed and said, "You might as well just make me a janitor here!"
  • I've decided to stretch the "fun post ahead" I was going to make a while back over several posts. Some of it is about how we've made stuff happen that we didn't have the money for and some of it is about free or low cost web 2.0 types of resources for churches and church plants, in particular. Here's one to play with: Calendar Hub. We are experimenting with it right now, and so far, it has been a pretty cool tool. It's an online calendar with a clean, simple look that can be updated by people you share the user name and password with. You can make some events public and others private between people you select, all on the same calendar. And yes, once again, this resource is free. Check out our simple start here:
Look for the "excuses" posts sometime after I get the "fined tuned and updated version" of this Sunday's Messsage | Sermon | Talk | Whatever outline to Kim...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Special Valentine's Day Pod Blip

this is an audio post - click to play

This is a special Valentine's Day edition of the Poor Pastor's Pod Blip.

Lighten up.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pink Piece of History

Back in August of 2005, Ben Arment of History Church had a short post on his blog about a pink shirt that he wore during a sermon. Across the front of the shirt were the words, "I feel a sin coming on." That really cracked me up, so I made a short comment on his blog that "I think I need that shirt."

Fast forward to a few days ago. Ben sent me a package that contained 2 of the resources from my Amazon Wishlist: "The Art of the Start" and "The Tipping Point!" What a cool blessing that was! Very cool.

Nestled among the books was the lovely shade of pink that was and is the infamous shirt! Yes, boys and girls, it is now in my possession.

So I used it this past Sunday during the "Heart Check: For Healthy Relationships" message. I wore it under another shirt, and did an "unveiling" at the appropriate moment. I'm pretty sure I frightened people when I started pulling up my shirt, but it got a great laugh and helped make my point!

Hmm, maybe I should sign it and send it along to another pastor....

Ben is a church planter who understands perseverance. "History" is and is becoming a great church because of a church planting pastor who has held closely to the vision God has given him and who has been willing to press on through time and obstacles. That's always inspiring and encouraging to me!

Thanks, Ben, for the inspiration, the books, the shirt and the laugh!

Oh and by the way, I've never met Ben face to face. [...yet]

Behold the power that is Blog. Blog on... :-D

[Fixed the "appropriate moment" link.]

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ta-da To Do Tomorrow...

Let's see, there are 24 hours in a day, so if I do 2 of the 30 items in my "ta-da" list every hour I should be able to accomplish them all with 9 hours to spare! Yeah, that should work...

Well, time is my enemy, so of course that didn't work, but I have spent the last two days trying. Only 20 items to go! :-D

I'm heading to bed before I fall asleep right here, but tomorrow I'll have to fill you in on:

- Ben Arment and a pink piece of history that is now in my possession.
- Anthony and a gathering of bloggers.
- Tonight's Roanoke Valentine's Dance and my growing number of keys.

Back tomorrow...


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ta-da To do Today...

My Ta-da "to do list" for today has 30 items. Before my sleepy head hits the pillow tonight, I'll let you know how many I finished.

I have a fresh pot of coffee brewing, and I'm gearing up for a crazy day. If you've commented on my blog or emailed me last night or this morning, getting back with you is most likely on the list!

Oh yeah, Ta-da is a cool little online tool. You can create clean, simple "to-do lists" that you can access anywhere you can connect to the web. You can also share them with others, which is cool for a simple task oriented group project, like the one I'm preparing for a meeting I have tonight.

And it also... is free.

There are some blog posts that are on my list, so hopefully I'll be back to the blog before the day is over.

Otherwise, I'll see you on the other side of daylight. Gentlemen, start your engines....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Compass Church Wired : Blog

It's just an experiment with many cool possibilities. Check it out: Compass Church Wired : Blog

An online [collaborative, interactive and rss/atom subscribable] newsletter that's up to the minute current.

And free.

Alright, so it's not exactly a novel idea. But I have more free, web 2.0 type links and ideas for churches [and especially church plants] on the way...

"I lo-o-o-o-ve technology... but no-o-o-o-o-o-t as much as you, you see...always and forever....always and forever..."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

New Friend at the River Nile

Met another blogger in the real world, yesterday. Jason Simmons is a great guy with an amazing story of God's grace. Our visit was a great time of laughter, sharing stories and encouragement. Since we both live in Keller, (or at least our mail does) I'm looking forward to getting to know Jason better in the weeks ahead. Check out his website here and his blog here.

He's also a generous guy, because he blessed me with one of the resources from my wishlist, "The Creative Leader" by Ed Young! Thanks Jason!

As a footnote, let me add that we met at a new coffee shop (open just over 30 days) in Keller called "The River Nile Coffee Shop." Website is still under construction.

The quick review is:

About even with Lynn's & better than many Starbucks (with free wi-fi)
Much better than Lynn's and about even with Starbucks, but I only had a redeye at my first meeting and a white chocolate moca later.

I actually went back later in the day for a second meeting and I'm sure I'll be sippin' java again and surfin' the free wi-fi at "The River Nile" real soon. But I gotta say that the mummy who tries to kill you after you place your order is probably over the top.


I'm just kidding.

There's no mummy.

Espresso and shocking surprises would be a bad combination. :)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Obstacles Are Not Always Indicators

Once you settle in your heart that God is calling you to do something, obstacles (and even failures) no longer become indicators. Once you are set on the journey, your eyes are on the goal and the obstacles just add drama to the adventure....not a reason for turning back.

If an obstacle is an indicator, it lets you know if you are on the right course. If you already know you are on the right course, the obstacles are simply part of the course.

Like the apostle Paul, you can lose the ship without losing the trip.