Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best Part of Waking Up!

A sweet little boy surprised his grandmother one morning and brought her a cup of coffee. He made it himself and was so proud. He anxiously waited to hear the verdict on the quality of the coffee.

His grandmother had never in her life had such a bad cup of coffee, and as she forced down the last sip she noticed three of those little green army guys in the bottom of the cup.

She asked, "Honey, why would three little green army guys be in the bottom of my cup?"

Her grandson replied, "You know grandma, it's like on TV, 'The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.'"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Emotional Deficit of a Pastor - pt 3

Trust all had a very Merry Christmas- we did at the Kerr household- had Jason, Ryan and Charity, Harry and Arleen, Jeremy and Jennifer Huff and 2 children, Brianna and Bradley, over for Christmas dinner. We ate, watched the kids, gave up on Dallas football game, and played games. Great Day!

Continuing on with my post on Emotional Deficit...

A number of years ago I read an article by Bill Hybels that revealed his struggles with emotional deficit.

The spiritual and physical aspects of life were important, but I had failed to consider another area essential to healthy ministry—emotional strength (deficit). I needed a third gauge on the dashboard of my life. —Bill Hybels

He essentially said that he was keeping himself built up in the spiritual and physical areas of his life but one day found himself depleted emotionally. He had failed to gauge himself in that area.

He found as myself and others have that signs of emotional deficit are:
(1) One begins to feel vulnerable morally,
(2) One becomes short and testy with people (esp. your family and staff),
(3) One feels an overwhelming tiredness even though you are sleeping,
(4) One questions whether they are really a Christian at all,
(5) One feels a desire to get out of God's work.

The results of dysfunctional pastors is surfacing with newspapers reporting about spiritual icons that are failing plus the numerous things that we hear about others that yet have been made public. It is not so much the lack of any value system by those individuals but the fact that the emotional deficit trap has not been addressed to Pastors nor them being taught to be aware of it and how to overcome it.

We all in ministry have to be aware of this emotional deficit. We need to have a gauge that we can read to see how we are doing in this aspect. Just like a fuel gauge on a car we can not afford this one to run on empty either.

Running on empty or running out will have the same debilitating effect of running out of gas- you will be stopped eventually. I guarantee this is a tool the enemy uses to destroy many servants of the Lord.

Next time, steps to replenishing the emotional tank…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas-

click to enlarge pic

It is all about God come in the flesh for our salvation!

Merry Christmas to my readers. You are greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Emotional Deficit of a Pastor - pt 2

I preached a 6 part series on Desperate Households this year (2006). These are desperate times in our churches and homes. We've heard a lot about dysfunctional families with family members blaming each other for their ills and poor choices in life. It is true that many are living with an emotional deficit in their lives. They are being overwhelmed.

But I probably should also go one step further and teach on Desperate Pastors. I think that we are witnessing a generation of dysfunctional pastors. They too are living in an emotional deficit. What I mean by that is that what is surrounding them is more demanding and commanding on them than what is being put into them. They are having trouble handling the emotional volume in their lives. Ministry is demanding and draining regardless of the size of the church- big or small.

Size of the church in no way equates to faithfulness before God. Jesus had only 12 disciples and did quite well. In fact, He only had one leave him- I have had a lot more. Church size does not equate with being more effective but really is more about what you do with what God has given you. The width of a church does not speak to the spirituality of the church.

But having said that, we find the difference in a big and small church is the emotional weight of the church on the pastor. Every day of every year with every person that is added the emotional weight of the congregation becomes greater. Consider Paul:

2 Cor 11:23-28
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.
27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (NIV)

He was talking about the emotional content for/of the people he loved, prayed for, cared for, cried with, rejoiced with, etc. It was as tough if not tougher on him than all the other things he had experienced in the flesh. It was emotional, caused him to lose sleep, and weighed heavily on him.

The pastor needs to learn how to handle the emotional content or he will become a casualty of the very ministry he loves.

more to follow...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Emotional Deficit of a Pastor

Col 3:12-15
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
13 You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
14 And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. NLT

This verse reminds me that God does not ignore the emotional content of life. The emotional needs of our lives are more a part of us than we often acknowledge, they are real, and need to be met.

Pastor’s have feelings and emotions too. I am reminded of the time when a couple was in my office and she especially was chewing on me. (Why is it choleric women do this while their passive husbands sit by? ‘Yes, dear,’) Anyway, I had had enough of the debilitating attack and told her she was hurting my feelings. She responded that I could not have hurt feelings because I was a Pastor. (Memo to self, Pastors must relinquish their feelings upon entering the ministry.) When I told her I did, she went off on me again. (Talk about a Roman candle igniting and right there in my office!)

Here is a principle I want to discuss in a few blogs:
Pastors are in danger in living on an emotional deficit. That means what is surrounding them is more demanding than what is being put in them.

The result- a generation of dysfunctional pastors!

A dysfunctional pastor is one who has not learned to handle the emotional volume of his life.

They are pastoring dysfunctional people and when you get dysfunctional leadership ministering to dysfunctional people in the same way leadership is always a multiplying equation, instead of multiplying strengths, they end up multiplying weaknesses!

Is it no wonder that Pastors isolate themselves, ignore the emotional deficit or better yet turn to something (meth) or someone (sexual relationship) to mask the hurts?

More to come on this...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas at The Vine

December is a busy month of activities at Vine Fellowship. Below are pics from some of those activities. Click pics to view larger image.
This was our annual Church Christmas party- A Night Under the Stars. Plenty of great food, karaoke, dancing, and fun fellowship.

Debi and I hosted our church Leadership Team, 30 guests, at our home for our annual party. Again some great food, fun games, and great fellowship. 'His banner over us is love' continues to be the motto our our leadership at the Vine.

We also had a dynamic Children's Christmas Program last night. They did skits, sang, danced, and had a great time entertaining the guests.

A big thank you to all that made these events possible. You are the greatest!

Pastor David's blooper for the day- I was waxing eloquent about the nativity scene and all those congregated around it- I said, "There were Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, the shepherds, and the three white men."

The three white men???- that is not something you say in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial church setting! Where did that come from? Help me Lord!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Top 10 Signs You are Broke This Christmas

A kindly 90-year-old grandmother found buying presents for family and friends a bit much one Christmas, so she wrote out checks for all of them to put in their Christmas cards.

In each card she wrote, "Buy your own present" and then sent them off.

After the Christmas festivities were over, she found the checks in her desk!

Everyone had gotten a Christmas card from her with "Buy your own present" written inside, but without the checks!

With just 10 days til Christmas here are top 10 signs you are broke---
10. American Express calls and says: "Leave home without it."
09. You’re formulating a plan to rob the local food bank.
08. Long distance companies don’t call you to switch.
07. You rob Peter… and then rob Paul.
06. You finally clean your house, hoping to find change.
05. You think of a lottery ticket as an investment
04. Salvation Army sets a kettle outside your door complete with bell ringer.
03. Compassion International sends you food and asks to sponsor you.
02. McDonald's supplies you with all your condiments.
01. At communion you go back for seconds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Nativity- I was brought to tears!

We had a staff outing today that included an early movie, The Nativity, and then a late lunch. I had an enjoyable time as my staff is a delight to be with. They truly are the Dream Team!

But the movie! It brought me to tears a number of times. I was able to control an all out burst of crying, the kind with snorting and snot, etc. But it wasn't easy. Points where I was obviously touched:
1. When Elizabeth heard Mary's voice and the child in her womb, John the Baptist, leaped.
2. Mary and Elizabeth in a field gleaning and Mary feels the baby Jesus move and runs to Elizabeth with excitement.
3. When Joseph goes to Mary after having the dream of the angel and knows that he is to take her as his wife.
4. Seeing Mary and Joseph ostracized by the village people.
5. Seeing Joseph sacrificing food, etc., for Mary.
6. Mary and Joseph talking about what the child was going to be like, Joseph says, "Will I be able to teach him anything?"
7. The tension and joy of the birth of Jesus.
8. The wise men laying their gifts before the couple and Jesus.

Well, you are right! That was almost the entire movie! I highly recommend that families see this movie this Christmas season.

You can also check out my sermons on the Nativity at the Vine Fellowship website.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Church's All-time Biggest Blunders

I wonder if the boater saw this coming? Did he read the signs? Did he learn anything from this blunder? I hope so.

Jesus said, "I will build My church." (Matthew 16:18) However The Church has made some pretty big blunders and it isn't the Lord's fault. Here is a list of 8 from my perspective (you can add more in the comments).

(1) We've made unbelief a doctrine. While third-world nations believe God for New Testament results, we teach our seminary students that God doesn't do miracles anymore.

(2) We've tolerated division. Who needs the devil when we're so adept at hating one another in the name of denominational loyalty?

(3) We've cultivated a religious spirit. We've taught that Christianity is about avoiding things like smoking and drinking. As a result we've lost our joy, because intimacy with God cannot be achieved through performance.

(4) We've encouraged "super stars." Consequently, some of our preachers have stopped modeling servant hood, and forgotten that Jesus washed feet and rode on a donkey.

(5) We've equated money with success. We've found a way to 'theologize' greed, instead of using our God-given prosperity to feed the poor and reach the world with the Gospel.

(6) We've stayed in the pews and become irrelevant. We freak out when somebody uses rap or rock music to reach the younger generation. Instead of engaging the culture we're hiding from it.

(7) We've taught people to be escape-artists. Instead of "occupying till He comes," we'd rather be astronauts and fly away. We read rapture novels when we should be praying for those living on the verge of martyrdom. Why can't we have their kind of faith? We can - if we're willing to pay the price and commit ourselves fully to God!

(8) We've made 'size matters!' We employ Madison Avenue marketing techniques to attract attention. The guy with the most money wins.

It's never too late to learn from our blunders.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

attitude pt4- a matter of training

Since attitude reflects what is already in us, we've got to clean up the junk that fills our hearts and minds.

If your general attitude towards life is poor I can almost guarantee it's because you're doing of one two things. You're either dining at the emotional trash heap of life, filling yourself up with self-destructive lies and bitterness, and reliving past hurts; or, you're spending your time filling your brain with negative and destructive thoughts.

... let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV

Are you taking anything into your mind that is contaminating your attitude? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of TV, books and movies go into your brain? If your attitude is in the dumpster (true dumpster diving), you've got to stop eating at the dumpster.

For some, maybe the emotional garbage heaps and moral cesspools we've experienced are still polluting our hearts and mind. Cleaning that stuff out means bringing those wounds to God. "Father, I've been hurt in this way and I need to let go of it and be healed." Or, "I did these things, I was wrong and I am sorry. Thank you, Jesus for paying for these sins."

Don't try to have a good attitude. Train for one.
I hear people say, "I'm trying my best to have a good attitude, but I can't do it."
But think about it. If you hoped to run a marathon this spring, you wouldn't wait until the day of the race and say, "Ok, now I'm going to try my best." You'd start working out now, building up your strength and stamina. You'd train for it.

The Apostle Paul's training regimen:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

1. Fill your mind with the right thoughts.
Sit down and add it up some time. How much time do you spend filling your mind with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? How much time reading the Bible and letting God speak to you? How often do you go to the Christian bookstore and buy books that build your vision, your faith and your character? Do you ever just sit in quiet and reflect on the awesomeness of God and His love for you? Do you ever sing to Him and worship Him?

Compare that to the amount of time you spend ingesting the mindless fluff that saturates the media. For you to build and maintain a good attitude, the scale has got to tilt away from that stuff and in the direction of the good stuff. And that requires an intentional and disciplined effort on your part. There's no other way. You've got to train your mind.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. Philippians 4:9aNIV

Paul knew that we learn from the example of people around us ...
2. Fill your life with the right people.
Ask yourself ... who is around me all the time and what am I learning from them?

Now some of those folks you can't do anything about. But some of the people in your life are there because you invited them. You may need to un-invite them - with a good attitude of course - and invite some new ones who will model good things for you. Then intentionally schedule yourself to be in the same place at the same time as those people.

As a pastor, you have to decide whether to hang with your critics or hang with your encouragers. It is really not a tough decision!

Attitude is a matter of training - not trying.

Monday, December 04, 2006

attitude pt3- how you got that attitude

Ever consider how you got that attitude? How are our attitudes formed? Consider this:

1. What is in me determines what comes out of me.

"... Out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts of lust, theft, murder, adultery, wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride, and all other folly. All these vile things come from within; they are what pollute you and make you unfit for God." Mark 7:20-23 TLB

Jesus is saying that our behavior, in this case very negative behavior, comes out of what is already in our heart. It works the same way with attitude. The outward attitude we display is only a reflection of what's already on the inside.

2. For the most part, I choose what goes in me.

I'm sure you've heard the one about the two guys who sat down to eat lunch. The first guy opened his lunch box, took out his sandwich and said, "I can't believe it! Baloney again. I hate baloney sandwiches. This is the fourth time this week I've had baloney. I can't stand baloney!"

The second guy said, "Well, why don't you say something to your wife?" The first man said, "What good will that do? I make my own lunch."

The truth is, that when it comes to attitude, we all make our own lunch. Most of the baloney in our lives we have put there ourselves. I choose the majority of what enters into and resides in my mind. And so do you.

To be fair, some "input" you can do nothing about - some of the people you work with or live with have so much junk on the inside of them that it eventually spews over onto everyone around them. And it takes a lot of work to keep it from dragging you down.

But what about the stuff we voluntarily invite into our minds? According to Jesus, they affect our entire life, including our attitude.

[Jesus said,] "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness." Matthew 6:22-23 NIV

What did he mean by that? He meant that whatever we focus on and allow in will eventually fill us up.

3. I choose my attitude and am solely responsible for it.

If my attitude is positive, it is a direct reflection of the positive stuff in me that I chose to put in there. If it's negative, it's a direct reflection of negative stuff that I have allowed to enter into and take up residence in me.

That's why none of us can make excuses for our attitude. We chose it. I chose mine. You chose yours. No one else is responsible for the attitudes!

Today, you are responsible for your attitude. How is it?

Friday, December 01, 2006

attitude pt2 - attitude adjustment gauges

Vick's attitude
Attitude ... it's often the key difference between seeing life as terrible or wonderful. It's often the key factor in obtaining personal success. It's a little word that makes a big difference.

How would you describe your attitude these days? Good? Bad? Middle of the road?

How do you know which it is? I think there are many ways to gauge our attitude but probably the simplest is to say that our attitude can be measured by our response to challenging circumstances and/or people.

When life is going smoothly, almost everyone has a good attitude. Our disposition is pleasant. We smile, we're courteous, and we’re willing to go out of our way for others. But let the road get a little bumpy - let things go crazy on the job, let us be treated unfairly, let us be around others who have rotten attitudes - what are we like then? That's when our true attitude is revealed.

It's helpful to identify some gauges that warn you when your attitude is in need of adjustment. You need to have some sirens that go off in your head that say, "do something now, because if you don't your attitude is going in the tank.” If you ignore these warning, serious trouble is up ahead.

1. One warning sign that my attitude is in trouble is that little outbursts of temper increase.
2. Another trouble gauge is that interruptions produce irritation.
3. Gauge number three is that my emotions become overly sensitive.
4. A fourth gauge that my attitude is in danger is that defeatist thinking begins to dominate.
5. Finally, I know my attitude is headed south when my view of people begins to lower.

Well, those are five gauges of an attitude that is in need of adjustment.

I'm curious ... how many of the things on my list describe where you are today?