Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can we see the forest for the trees?

My wife and I are in Rapid City, South Dakota for pastor's retreat. A few educational sessions, some encouragement sessions and hopefully somewhere in here will be some relaxing sessions. This afternoon, God really spoke to me and I felt I really need to share.

A few questions were asked that prompted my thinking in this direction. The questions were: 1)What are your greatest hopes for God's Church? 2) What is the local church doing to spread transformational hope and holiness? And 3) What barriers prevent or hinder this?

I don't think my answers to those questions would win me any profound answer awards, but I just have to ask, "Are we making this thing too difficult? What is my greatest hope for God's Church? For me, a Wesleyan....my hope is that the Wesleyan Church will be what people turn to. It will be what people take comfort in BECAUSE of our stand on holiness, not in spite of it. I believe we are living in the last days and that people are hungrier for truth and holiness than ever before...or at least for many, many years.

Answer to question #2...What are we doing at Quarry Rock to spread transformational hope and holiness? I believe I must not only be a pastor to Quarry Rock, but I must be a pastor....a trusted shepherd to Dell Rapids and the communities around us. Serving outside our 4 walls is imperative. We absolutely must continue to love and accept people just as they are. Christ certainly did. Christ did not condone sin. He hates sin, but he loved and accepted the sinner...thus our motto: Come as you are in every way....spiritually, physically, emotionally. It doesn't matter, just come!

And #3...What barriers prevent or hinder this? Well, I think it is just too obvious. Instead of focusing on all the negatives.... "Well, if only I had this" "Well, we can't do this because..." But.... but....but.... forget all the excuses! What is hindering the progress? What is preventing a spiritual stir and revival from shaking us to our core? How about this? I believe it is the absolute truth and I for one am sorry. I am. But I want you to hear me really well. It stops now! What prevents or hinders this work of holiness?

A lack of prayer!
A lack of faith that God just might do something awesome and amazing before our very eyes!

2 Chronicles 7:14
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.(NLT)

John 14:12-14
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!(NLT)

Everything else you do will be burned up...It will amount to nothing. But what is done for Christ will last forever. Please...... for the sake of the Kingdom, let's be a people of faith and prayer. Pray for the lost people you know to be saved. Pray for God to turn our city upside down with the love and power of Jesus Christ. Pray and then believe it to fruition.

Email me or post on my blog if you are seriously willing to commit with me to seeing this happen. God bless and let the Spirit of God fall heavy upon us!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Johnny the Bagger

This blog is a story taken from John Ortberg's book, "When the game is over IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX" May you be blessed by it as much as I was.

Let me tell you one of my favorite stories of someone searching for a mission...the story of Johnny the bagger.
Johnny works at a grocery store. One day he went to a training event led by a speaker named Barbara Glanz. She was talking to 3,000 front line workers for a supermarket chain--truck drivers, cashiers and stockers.
Barbara was speaking on how people can make a difference....Isn't that what we are about at Quarry Rock? She described how every interaction with another person is a chance to create a memory, to bless some one's life. She talked about how important it is to look for those moments. She placed on the walls, as she always does when she speaks, posters with inspiring sayings. She told some stories and then went home, but she left her phone number behind. She invited the people at the conference to give her a call if they wanted to talk more about something she said.
About a month later, Barbara received a call from one of the people at that session, a 19 year old baggger named Johnny. Johnny proudly informed her that he had down syndrome, and then he told her his story.
"Barbara, I liked what you talked about. But I didn't think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I'm just a bagger." Then he had an idea: he decided that every night when he came home from work, he would find a "thought for the day" for his next shift. It would be something positive, some reminder of how good it was to be alive, or how much people matter, or how many gifts we are surrounded by. If he couldn't find one, he would make one up.
Every night his dad would help him enter the saying six times on a page on the computer; then Johnny would print 50 pages. He would take a pair of scissors and carefully cut 300 copies and sign every one.
Johnny put the stack of pages next to him while he worked. Each time he finished bagging some one's groceries, he would put his saying on top of the last bag. Then he would stop what he was doing, look the person straight in the eye, and say, "I've put a great saying in your bag. I hope it helps you have a good day. Thanks for coming here."
A month later, the store manager called Barbara. "Barbara, you won't believe what's happening here. I was making my rounds, and when I got up to the cashiers, the line at Johnny's checkout was three times longer than anyone else's. It went all the way down the frozen food aisle."
The manager got on the loudspeaker to get more checkout lines open, but he couldn't get any of the customers to move. They said, "That's okay. We'll wait. We want to be in Johnny's line." One woman came up to him and grabbed his hand, saying, "I used to shop in your store once a week. Now I come in every time I go by--I want to get Johnny's thought for the day." Johnny is doing more than filling bags with groceries; he is filling lives with hope.
My prayer is this: Lord, may everyone who reads these words realize the potential they have to impact some one's life in a positive and eternal way. Lord help us to speak words of encouragement. When we think something good, God help us to say it. You can be a difference maker and a world changer right where you are. Go for it!!

Monday, February 8, 2010


Integrity is more than knowing the right thing or knowing what the rules of the game are.

A man is being tailgated by a woman who is in a hurry. He comes to an intersection, and when the light turns yellow, he hits his brakes. I know...many of you hit the gas, but is that the correct response??? Anyway, he hits his brakes. The woman behind him goes ballistic. She honks her horn at him; she yells her frustration in no uncertain terms; she rants and she gestures. You can fill in the blanks.

While she is in mid-rant, someone taps on her window. She looks up and sees a police officer. He invites her out of her car and takes her to the police station where she is searched and fingerprinted and put in a cell. After a couple of hours, she is released, and the arresting officer gives her stuff back to her and says, "I'm very sorry for the mistake, ma'am. I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, using bad gestures and bad language. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do?' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'Follow me to Sunday School' window sign, the Christian fish emblem on your trunk, and I naturally assumed you had stolen the car."

My friends, the world gets pretty tired of people who have Christian bumper stickers on their cars, Christian fish signs on their trunks, Christian books on their shelves, Christian stations on their radios, Christian jewelry around their necks, Christian videos for their kids, and Christian magazines for their coffee tables but don't actually have the life of Jesus in their bones or the love of Jesus in their hearts.

Integrity is much bigger than simply avoiding breaking the rules. It is becoming the kind of person who does the right thing. It means actually becoming the kind of person who wants to do the right thing as well. May the grace and love of Jesus Christ rule and reign in your hearts, minds, and actions today......and tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dead.....but oh so ALIVE!

Sometimes we aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, are we? I mean, we read the Scriptures. We know what the Good Book says. Yet we get upset and mad at God when things aren't always going our way. We experience a trial and what is our first question? "Why, God?! What did I do to deserve this?" Right????? You know what I'm talking about. If things don't go according to "our plan", we get frustrated and think either God is punishing us or simply ignoring us. Do you sometimes feel like if God really loved you, He wouldn't let these things happen to you or come into your life? I don't want you to feel alone in your confessions of guilt. I feel that way too. I am human and I live in a fallen world. A world that is dripping with sin and evil. We look around and see the wicked prosper. We see people who don't deserve blessings receiving them and "we"...who deserve God's best suffer and live with trials and heartache and health problems and death and poverty, right??? Let me share a few things that really helped me this morning. I am praying at this very moment that it will speak life and hope into you as well. God bless you, my friend!

1 Peter 4:12-14
Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad-for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.(NLT)

2 Timothy 2:12
If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us.(NLT)

John 15:18-19
"If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.(NLT)

Galatians 2:20
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.(NLT)

Colossians 2:13-15
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.(NLT)