Monday, October 29, 2012

An Amazing Sunday

Yesterday was incredible!  My assistant just reminded me the sometimes God shows up and sometimes God shows off - yesterday God showed off!

Between the two services on Sunday Morning I believe we celebrated 20 baptisms (1 at 9:30 and 19 at 11:15 – I’m still waiting to see the final list).  It took a whole lot of people working behind the scenes to make that happen and added something extra for all those who manage the logistical and technical aspects of a Sunday morning.  There were glitches to overcome (there are always glitches) and lessons learned (we will always be learning) but there was a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit in the room that still has me on a high! 

I know that some people were disappointed that we didn’t announce each name individually or have a chance to focus attention on each baptism (we are going to work on way to incorporate that).  That was a sacrifice for some but I’m convinced that sacrifice was what enabled many of the unplanned baptisms to occur.

Every baptism was meaningful but the last two will stick with me for a while.  Neither had planned to be baptized yesterday but both expressed to me that they knew it was time to ask Jesus to take care of their “stains.”  The last came up to me after the service was over – I think she was nervous in front of people – and so as the room was empting, she was baptized, with a friend standing next to me and, I’m convinced, all of heaven celebrating.

What an amazing morning!

And then yesterday afternoon's Punk Your Trunk was a blast.  By now I’m no longer surprised, but still blown away by the energy and creativity of the Mountaintop community.  We provided the parking spaces and small groups and families took over from there.  I’d never have imagined “bobbing for limes” – but HS Senior Boys did (and even though it was a little on the cool side didn't mind demonstrating).  I’d never envision turning a VW Bug into and Angry Bird and then turning that Angry Bird into a game – but the Brandon family did.  I’d never dream of performing the Thriller dance as part of a flash mob – but thankfully I was hidden in the middle and surrounded by great dancers and so I did!

The best part was seeing so many (and we have no idea how many) new faces.  I ran into people that I know we’ve been praying for (some of their names are written on the platform) and I keep hearing stories of people making a first visit (or a first visit in a long time) to Mountaintop.

We couldn’t have pulled off 20 baptisms without Linda Crump and her team making sure every detail was covered.  Melissa Sanderson’s Punk Your Trunk leadership, leading up to, throughout and afterwards was exceptional.  Willie Dillard’s ability to manage our facilities with patience and grace is truly a blessing to all.  The effort of every member of our staff and the countless volunteers and small groups leaders was inspiring.

What an amazing Sunday!

There are a lot of favorite moments – but my very favorite came at the end.  The parking lot was empty and Melissa’s team had just completed counting the money from the hot dog sales (an important final task).  We were all more than ready to head home when Melissa stopped us and invited us to pray together.  So we did.  We offered prayers of thanks for the weather, the fun, for everyone who worked so hard and for not losing any kids!  We prayed that seeds might have been planted that will continue to grow in the hearts of individuals and families.  As we prayed we could hear Philip and Allison in the studio recording violin tracks for the Christmas CD (which makes awesome background music for praying).  It was great leadership by Melissa, the perfect way to end a very full day and a great reminder that prayer is the engine that drives Mountaintop!

Well done everyone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Week of Prayer - Thursday Prayers

 It's Wednesday night - but I have an early morning small group so I am posting prayers for Thursday's focus - Prayer for our Nation - tonight.  And if you get a chance join us in the morning.

6:30 – 7:30 a.m. guided prayer in the Prayer Corner
Prayers for our Nation

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land – 2 Chronicles 7: 14

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good. – Titus 3: 1

Whatever your political leanings may be, these prayers from men who have held the office of President of the United States are great reminders of our need to pray for our nations and our leaders.

George Washington:  A Prayer for Guidance
O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul....
Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends, and kindred.
--An undated prayer from Washington's prayer journal, Mount Vernon

Thomas Jefferson: A Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Washington D.C., March 4, 1801

Abraham Lincoln:  A Prayer for Peace
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continues... until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid another drawn with the sword... so still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
--Second Inaugural address, March 4, 1865

Franklin D. Roosevelt:  A Prayer in Dark Times
            Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity...
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph...
Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. And for us at home--fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice... Give us strength, too--strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace--a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
--D-Day, June 6, 1944

John F. Kennedy:  A Prayer of Gratitude
Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings--let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals--and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.
On that day let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.
--Thanksgiving Day, 1963

Jimmy Carter:  A Prayer for a Meaningful Life
            I would like to have my frequent prayer answered that God let my life be meaningful in the enhancement of His kingdom and that my life might be meaningful in the enhancement of the lives of my fellow human beings.
I call upon all the people of our Nation to give thanks on that day for the blessings Almighty God has bestowed upon us, and to join the fervent prayer of George Washington who as President asked God to "impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves to the whole family of mankind."
--Prayers from his inaugural address, January 20, 1977, and his Thanksgiving speech to the nation, November 27, 1980

Ronald Reagan:  A Prayer for Healing
To preserve our blessed land we must look to God... It is time to realize that we need God more than He needs us... We also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country, that "If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step, in humble heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always.
The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America... Our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal. Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth.
If I had a prayer for you today, among those that have all been uttered, it is that one we're so familiar with: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace...." And God bless you all.
--From a speech to the American people, February 6, 1986

George H. W. Bush:  A Prayer to Help Others
My first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your heads.
Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our hearts these words: "Use power to help people."
For we are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people. Help us to remember it, Lord.
            The Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us; so that He may incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways... that all peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.
--Inaugural address, January 20, 1989

Bill Clinton: A Prayer for People in Public Office
May Those generations whose faces we cannot yet see, whose names we may never know, say of us here that we led our beloved land into a new century with the American Dream alive for all her children; with the American promise of a more perfect union a reality for all her people; with America's bright flame of freedom spreading throughout all the world. From the height of this place and the summit of this century, let us go forth. May God strengthen our hands for the good work ahead--and always, always, bless our America.
--Second Inaugural address, January 20, 1997

George W. Bush:  A Prayer for the Departed
We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who love them... On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask Almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.
As we have been assured, neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, can separate us from God's love. May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.
--From his address to the nation after the World Trade Center attacks, September 14, 2001

6:30 – 7:30 a.m. guided prayer in the Prayer Corner
Prayer for the ministries of Mountaintop that keep us outwardly focused.

Week of Prayer - Wednesday Prayers

Healing was central to the ministry of Jesus. It was a sign of God's kingdom, bringing renewal and wholeness of life to those who turned to God in their need. Jesus sent out his disciples with the commission to 'proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal' (Luke 9:2).

In every act of worship, the Church celebrates the grace of God who desires wholeness of body, mind and spirit for all people. At a service of healing, we focus on that aspect of God's character. We bring to God our own frailty and brokenness - felt not just in physical illness, but in guilt, anxiety and all the burdens which weigh us down. We also bring our concerns for others and for the world. Above all, we come to the God who knows our needs before we ask, and whose love revealed in Jesus Christ is stronger than suffering and death.

Almighty God our heavenly Father,
you have blessed us with the gift of life
and placed us in a world of beauty and wonder. Your perfect will for us is wholeness in body, mind and spirit. 
We bow in awe and wonder at your feet
and freely acknowledge our dependence upon you for all that is good.
In your presence we remember our sin and failure, all that damages our lives, the lives of others 
and the world which you have created, humbly we ask You to forgive us, in the name of our Lord Jesus
 who loves us and gave Himself for us.
Jesus said: 'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'
Heavenly Father, we pray for the whole of the human family, your children, our brothers and sisters throughout the world; for the nations of the world and their leaders;
and all who have authority and influence;
We pray for peace in your Church; for the healing of divisions;
 that in faith and unity we may be constantly renewed by your Holy Spirit for mission and service.
We pray for all who suffer;
 for the victims of war and violence;
 of persecution and aggression;
of disaster and accident; 
we pray for the homeless and the hungry;
 for refugees and asylum-seekers;
 for the destitute and the oppressed; 
for the lonely and unloved; and for those who mourn; that they may find strength and hope.
We pray for the sick in our community, 
those in hospital or at home,
 for those whose minds are beset with anxiety and fear, for those oppressed or broken in spirit;
 for those who turn to us for healing and comfort
 that, together in you, we may find wholeness and peace.  Lord Jesus, embrace them in your loving grace and healing power. Father, 
send your Spirit of life and health on your servants
We pray for one another and for ourselves,
 that we may be instruments of your peace and joy. May we know for ourselves, and share with others, Your wholeness, healing and salvation.
We thank you, gracious God.
You have loved us from the beginning of time and remembered us when we were in trouble.
We thank you, redeeming God.
You have come to us in Jesus Christ, who heals us and saves us from sin.
We thank you, holy God.
You have sent us your Spirit,
to comfort us and lead us into all truth.
Gracious Father, we ask these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, the Healer, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
 Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy will be done in earth, 
As it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread.
 And forgive us our trespasses,
 As we forgive them that trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For Thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. prayer service in the Sanctuary
Worship, Communion and Prayers for Healing and Wholeness
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Matthew 21: 22

6:30 – 7:30 a.m. guided prayer in the Prayer Corner
Prayers for our Nation
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7: 14

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Catalyst 2012 Revisited

Technically this is a repost of the last three day’s posts – but I’m reading through my Catalyst notes again (since the So. Carolina Georgia game is too frustrating to watch) and thought I’d combine them all together.

Which of the thoughts especially resonate with you?  Which ones do you disagree with?  Which ones make you go hmmmm?

The temptation is to study what “use to work” when we need to step toward where God wants us to go.

A leader who will take God at His word is a dangerous leader.

Steps of faith never get smaller - they only get bigger.

We know God is with us when we have an increased desperation for His word, increased love for people (especially messy people) and increased love for the vision.

If there’s a resume on your computer – use it…

Too many churches are enslaved to the personal preferences of out-of-touch leaders.

The purpose of the church isn’t for everybody to know everybody but for everybody to know Jesus.

If you aren’t excited… something is wrong.  If you have to manufacture energy… something is wrong.

If you don’t have someone mad at you, you aren’t leading well.

We have carpeted and air conditioned churches to make something that’s supposed to be messy, comfortable.

Quit something every Thursday.

If you “cleared the deck” and started adding things back – what would be number 7 on the list?

Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

No one has cancer when they are talking on a walkie-talkie.

God is a creator not an editor.

Never give a girl a daisy unless it has exactly three petals left.

Everybody wants to make a difference but no one wants to be different.

Love God.  Love People.  Do Stuff.

God has determined that certain expressions of His power will only be revealed through prayer.

The one thing a leader can never delegate is prayer.

Prayer is the difference between the best you can be and the best God can do.

Sometimes God shows up.  Sometimes God shows off.

We want God to do something new while we keep doing the same old thing.

Stay humble.  Stay hungry.  If you aren’t hungry for God you are full of yourself.

You may have to risk your reputation to establish God’s reputation.

What if we were known by the problems we solve?

Do we plant churches where we can grow the bigger churches or where people need the church?

Help others not to offer charity but dignity.

We are good at binding up the brokenhearted.  What do we do with ordinary-hearted?

Embrace the inconvenience of crossing the street.

The degree to which you are willing to be interrupted or inconvenienced is the degree to which God can use you.

The job description for each follower of Jesus:  “I’m personally responsible for the evangelism of the planet before the second coming of Christ.”

Think inside the box.  Constraints are a requirement for innovation and limited resources are an ingredient for creativity.  Embrace constraints.

Limited resources + passion = innovation.

Regularly exercise your change muscles.

Failure is a requirement for innovation.

Genesis 1 reminds us that we were made to make (create) not to consume.

As soon as we arrive at cool the line moves and you aren’t cool anymore.

Information and insight do not make a leader.  What every leader needs are an unexpected opportunity, unavoidable adversity and an unquestionable calling.  How you respond to the opportunity, adversity and calling determines whether or not you are a leader.

Leaders seize opportunities even if it means leaving the known for the unknown.

Make your response to an unexpected opportunity, unavoidable adversity and an unquestionable calling a story worth telling.

The greatest thing you do as a leader may not be what you do but who watches what you do.

Actions don’t only speak louder than words, they echo into future generations.

Influence is more important than positions or titles.

It’s better to make a difference that to make a point.

Pay attention to the tension in life.  That’s where God stirs our hearts and shakes our categories.

Move toward messes with the gospel of grace and truth.

Whenever we sing “Just As I Am” we should mean it (for everyone).

When you are an open-handed leader God will place things in your hands, but He will make you a leader when He starts taking things out.

People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.

Organizational health is our greatest, and too often untapped, advantage.

Simple solutions require humility to practice.

To be successful you must be smart AND healthy.

Your staff should be able to imitate you.

Wine is the great elixir of truth.

If you can’t trust people, manage them off the team.

The leader has to be vulnerable FIRST.

The best leaders let others “see them sweat” and proudly show the “sweat stains.”

People will walk through fire for a leader they trust.

Embrace conflict.

Conflict with trust is the pursuit of truth.  Conflict without trust is politics.

We owe it to one another to disagree.

When we don’t disagree around an issue it ferments around the person and that’s destructive.

We crush someone’s spirit when we won’t disagree with his or her idea.

Great teams hold each other accountable.  They don’t go to the leader all the time.

Firing someone is the last act of cowardice.

The technical term for a leader who won’t hold someone accountable = wuss.

We avoid accountability not because we don’t want someone to feel bad, we don’t want him or her to blame us for making him or her feel bad.

You don’t change the world with the ideas in your mind.  You change the world with the convictions in your heart.

Too many people are living with a profound absence of hope.

We are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.

The opposite of poverty is justice.  The opposite of poverty is enough.

It takes courage to embrace the broken instead of the comfortable.

In a world where too many people are willing to “cast the first stone” there is a need for “stone catchers.”

No mater what I do I can’t make all the people happy – read the Bible – neither could God.

When we stop screaming at the world to “discover me” and start asking God to “develop me” we begin the journey from here to there.

It’s okay to never get noticed.

David didn’t use his anointing as an excuse not to go through the process of leadership – or to not have to carry the cheese and bread.

If you are gifted don’t tell us, show us.

The next time you think the task you are asked to perform in ridiculous – remember what Saul asked David to bring him from the Philistines.

Most of us are getting paid to do what traditionally people gave their lives to do.

God won’t trust us with greater things unless we are faithful with what we are doing now.

When someone throws a spear at you – its time to go.

1 Samuel 22: 1 is the prefect description of a church plant (or any church).  Look it up!

With ordinary people Jesus began a movement that is still moving today.

The deepest wounds lead us to empty tombs.

If you need to be certain you’ll never do anything.

If you start walking down the street announcing a parade – you might start one.

The key to story telling is to remember that everyone connects with an authentic moment.

Always ask if this is for me or for Jesus.

Read Judges 2: 10 and remember how quickly it can all fall apart.

If you don’t honor those who came before you, you will forget about those who come behind you.

The last thing the Body of Christ needs is another wounded healer putting his or her junk on someone else.

Nothing can kill you quicker than a spotlight.

Most “suddenlys” in the Bible took about 25 years.

It is better to be marked by God than marketed by man.

Get off Facebook and get your face in THE BOOK.

Your talent will open the door but only your character will keep you in the room.

There’s really only one love language – to die to self and pray “nevertheless….”

If God puts you somewhere its His responsibility to keep you there.  If you make your own destiny then its up to you.

If it’s not about the numbers then how come everybody is counting?

Before you go and make disciples examine your own life and ask if it’s a life that should be replicated.

Does my life remind anyone of Jesus? Can I say follow me as I follow Jesus?

It’s easier to make friends at church than to go out and make disciples.

Jesus sent us to go and make disciples but we like to sit and make excuses.

When we get scared and need more boldness we need to pray. When the early church did this the ground shook!

Pray for power and courage.

Remember who you are and remember you are not what you make.

Fame is the most dangerous drug in Christianity.

Be content that the Creator of the universe knows your name.

God and His glory will never be handcuffed by your failure or unleashed by your success.

What if our celebrations were so big and exciting that people would stop to ask what’s going on?

Only God fixes problems with parties.

“I’d rather go to a pet store and look at kittens than go to Wal-Mart” – Criag Groeschel.  Amen!

Trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Live deo ho pneuma

Don’t stop just because you don’t know what might come next.

To step toward your destiny you will have to step away from comfort.

Whenever you take an uncertain step of faith you will face resistance.

If you are not ready to face opposition for your obedience to God you are not ready to be used by God.

Everything of God, everything significant and everything new and effective will face resistance.

If I blame myself for the declines then I will take credit for the increases.

Don’t worry when you are being criticized – worry when you aren’t.

Uncommon clarity can’t be achieved without taking a first step of faith.

Smiles on faces sometimes hide devastated hearts.

There is a temptation to define our value by external things.

We can’t.  God can.  Rest in that!

Be faithful wherever you are, but celebrate what God is doing in other places (especially other churches)!

This job is not better than knowing Jesus.

We are never going to make Christianity so cool that no one is offended.  If no one is offended its not the gospel.

Inspire people to do what inspires them.

Everyone knows what they do.  Most people know how they do it.  Few people know why they do it.

People aren’t drawn to what you do, they are drawn to why you do it. So define yourself not by what you do but by why you do it.

To be successful you need the clarity of why, the discipline of how and the consistency of what.

Never confuse celebrity with leadership.

Everyone in your family thinks they are in your top 7.

Leaders never leave early.

Church is a place where people give money to create volunteer positions they have to fill.

If you don’t know why something is working when its working you won’t know how to fix it when it breaks.

Seminaries create thinkers.  Churches need doers.  Recruit doers not thinkers.  It’s much easier to educate a doer that to activate a thinker.

Great vision without great people is irrelevant – Jim Collins

Put the best people on your most important tasks.

Performance-oriented people like to win – define the win.

Don’t force people to work around the organization.

Critical mass is critical to success.

Bad wisdom – “Its not about your ability its about your availability.”  Would you choose a surgeon based on that?

We can’t make anyone fall in love with Jesus, but we can set them up on a date.

What we (the local church) is doing is important because we are the Body of Christ and Jesus Christ is the Hope of the World!