Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An Exhortation to the Church

Do you see the signs of the times?

Do you understand the events of man and the work of God in these days?  
For these days are like unto those of Jeremiah, Daniel, Habakkuk, and Malachi. 
They are like unto John on the island of Patmos.

In these days do not trust in political solutions, says the Lord. Do not trust in the arm of flesh. Do you not remember that the arm of Flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own?  

Put on the gospel armor, put on each piece with prayer and stand firm uniting your shields in faith.  Then take up the sword of the spirit which is the word of God and pray with perseverance in the Spirit for all the saints.

Did I not take Nebuchadnezzar off his throne and make him eat grass like a cow for seven years. Did I not and then restore him to his throne and make him give testimony to the whole world that I am the one who put kings on their thrones and I overrule the affairs of men, and that I can take the proud and crush them into dust.

Did I not give Daniel favor before kings without compromising his faith in me? Did I not close the mouths of lions before Daniel and keep the fire from Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego? Did I not give Ezra favor with Cyrus to rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem and then Nehemiah favor to rebuild the walls?

Can your governments pass any law that I cannot overrule?  Can any dictator challenge my power?  So why do you keep placing your hope and your trust in the arm of flesh in these evil days?

When I call you to step out of the boat and walk on the water with me, will you keep your eyes on me or will you be in fear of the waves rolling around you? Will you walk with me on the waves or continue to trust in a boat made with human hands?

Can I not prepare a table for you in the presence of your enemies? In my arms can anything touch you unless I permit it? Keep your eyes on me and you will face the lions without fear. Keep your eyes on me and you will face the fire and the sword surrounded with my peace which the world cannot give.

Keep your eyes on me and you will walk to me on top of the waves of turmoil that are coming up in the world.

Put your eyes on me, now step out of the boat and walk with me on the waves.


For some time I have been seeking the Lord for wisdom regarding the moral and political direction of the church in our increasingly pagan culture. I have had parts of the exhortation shared above for some time, but a few weeks ago I woke up early Sunday and the words of this exhortation came so clearly into my spirit that I immediately got up and wrote it down. 

The Lord is not leading us to stay out of politics…Daniel was a prophetic and political figure in his times. God is reminding us not to trust in political solutions, to not compromise our faith, and He is exhorting us to trust Him and learn to follow. “Dare to be a Daniel…” (Do you remember the rest of that old SS chorus?) Oh how we need more young and old Daniels today.

Feel free to share as you feel led. Click here for a pdf

Please take time to read:
R. Loren Sandford  - Prophetic Moments #94..


Friday, October 14, 2016

Culture and Ministry Post from Dave

Yesterday I attended a "withinREACH" pastors luncheon on raising our evangelistic temperature. The feature speaker was Rick Richardson who shared an organic Church Evangelism Initiative which incorporates with the BLESS missional practices (B-Begin with Prayer, L-Listen, E-Eat, S-Serve, S-Story). I feel this could be helpful here in Omaha.

I so appreciated Rick's triangle illustration on maintaining balance in ministry (Upward-Worship, Inward-Fellowship, Outward-Outreach). I hope we don't skip too quickly over the upward and inward evaluations in our enthusiasm to reach those farthest from Jesus...which leads to the purpose of this post.

Like many of you I have condensed my internet reading down to a few selected sites and blogs. One of mine is James Emery White. I read his most recent blog this morning, which was suspiciously timely after our luncheon yesterday, "Three Ways Meck Could Have Been Much Bigger Than It Is... that I don't regret" (see below)

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book is "The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated."

Blessings, Dave

Vol. 12, No. 81 
Last week marked Meck’s 24th anniversary, a church I had the privilege of planting in October 1992 and where I have served as pastor ever since. We started humbly with 112 people in a tropical storm. Over the years we’ve grown to around 10,000 active attenders, with 40,000 or so in our wider orbit.

In the spirit of our anniversary, my last blog was about the three ways Meck could have been much bigger than it is that I deeply regret. You can read it here.

As I wrote in the earlier blog, bigger isn’t everything, I know. It’s not even always better. But I am from the school of thought that numbers matter because they represent people, and people matter. So how you “get” those numbers matters, too.

So here’s the second installment: Three ways Meck could have been bigger that I do not regret.

1. I could have sacrificed my family.

Without a doubt, Meck would be much larger than it is today if I had sacrificed my family on the altar of ministry.

I didn’t.

And I’m glad.

While my kids were at home, I refused the vast majority of night meetings and events. I set aside weekly “Family Days” to spend with my wife and children. I worked hard and put in my fair share of hours, but not at the expense of my family.

The result?

Maybe a smaller church, but a much stronger family. And a family that loves the church. So many “PKs” do not. All four of my children are in fulltime vocational ministry.

All four.

If you want more details on this, I outlined a bit more about raising “PKs” in my book What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker).

2. I could have focused on transfer growth.

At Meck, we aren't attempting to lure believers from other churches by having glitzier services and better programs.

We’re trying to turn atheists into missionaries.

And that’s hard.

We would be so much bigger if we focused on transfer growth. Quite frankly, that’s easy.

Think of it this way:

Imagine that someone wants to fly from Charlotte to Atlanta. When making their flight reservation, they will make a consumer decision based on flight times, costs, customer service, etc.

Getting them to switch from, say, Delta to American is easy. Just offer them a better deal, better experience and better service. Why is it easy?


Now think about someone who not only does not want to fly from Charlotte to Atlanta; they do not even like airplanes! Or airports! Or flying!

Think about what it would take to get them to book a flight, drive to the airport, park their car, go through security, wait at the gate, and sit down in seat 13C.

Like I said, transfer growth is so much easier than conversion growth. And Meck would be so much bigger if that was our focus.

And I am so glad it’s not.

I’m kind of a Great Commission guy.

I think Jesus was, too.

3. I could have avoided talking about controversial social issues and theology, and made each service a pep rally.

Many believe that the popularity and success of Billy Graham was due, in large part, to keeping his evangelistic voice without falling into a prophetic voice.

In like manner, I’ve often heard pastors, particularly of large churches, say that they do not want to speak out on the issues of the day for the sake of keeping their focus on the gospel and not alienating people on the front end.

But this would be a gross misunderstanding of not only Graham, but evangelism itself.

Graham took stands against racism and many other social ills of his day, often at great personal cost. He was an evangelist, to be sure, but the lesson he learned was not to avoid social issues, but to avoid politics. In fact, his involvement in politics early on in his ministry, particularly with Richard Nixon, proved to be one of his greatest regrets. He also learned to avoid the minor theological arguments that divided Christians – the nonessentials.

He stuck to the “mere Christianity” of C.S. Lewis.

But never at the expense of orthodoxy.

And never at the expense of social issues in general.

Graham took on the biggest issue of his day: segregation.

And he never lost his evangelistic voice along the way. In fact, his was the greatest voice of his generation.

Does this thin out the crowd? Yes, in a very Jesusy way. Do you remember what He said when the crowds got a little big about eating flesh and drinking blood? And the scriptural narrative notes that many then stopped flocking to His side?

You can almost hear the thoughts of Jesus in the background:

“So much the better.”

The goal wasn’t simply numbers.

The goal was disciples.

The goal is not to avoid offending people. It’s to offend them with the scandal of truth, the scandal of the gospel, the scandal of submission, at every appropriate point.

Jesus made it very clear that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, and rumor has it His own life did not end in a crowning but a crucifying.

And at the end, He had very few followers rallying around the foot of the cross.

But I am so glad He went there.

James Emery White