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I believe there is a lot of imagination and exaggeration in the experiencing and reporting of miracles. I could get boiled in anointing oil for this, but that’s what I think.

I believe in the miraculous power of God, believe this power is available today, pray for the miraculous… but don’t see a lot of it, not the “real-deal” blind-eyes-see type of stuff. The truth seems to be that with the millions of prayers offered up each day very few of them result in spectacular, in-your-face, uncontested miracles… basically, like the ones found in the Gospels and Acts.

In the Roman Catholic Church, before someone can be canonized a Saint there must be, I think, two or three confirmed miracles performed by the candidate or by someone praying to the candidate. By “confirmed” they mean that there was no other reasonable explanation for the miracle other than a miracle.

Maybe that’s going too far.

Just because some cancers go into remission on their own does not mean that others did not do so as a result of prayer. Reminds me of the old priest who was interacting with a skeptic:

Skeptic: You Christians claim to get answers to prayer. How do you know it’s not just coincidence?

Old Priest: You might be right. All I know is that I see more coincidences when I pray.

Still, despite my heretical ideas, at least heretical for a charismatic, I will keep praying for miracles as best I can and take what I get thankfully even if it is imagination or exaggeration.

I don’t think I’m a very good Charismatic.

Now keep in mind. I’ve been “baptized in the Holy Spirit”, speak in tongues, I’ve fallen under the power of the Holy Spirit and flopped on the floor like a mackerel but…

1. I’m not that interested in, fascinated with, or focused on signs and wonders.

2. I don’t see many signs and wonders among those who are interested in, fascinated with, or focused on signs and wonders.

3. I seldom agree with the hermeneutics used by those who are interested in, fascinated with, or focused on signs and wonders.

4. Like the Emperors New Clothes, the reports of miracles seem more exaggeration and imagination than certifiable miracles.

5. The things I am interested in most Charismatics don’t seem to be too interested in.

I hope this doesn’t get me kicked out of the Charismatic Club…I’ve been a member for so long it would be tragic if it did.

Psalm 63:6 “When I remember you on my bed, I meditate on you in the night watches.”

The phrase, “night watches” meant more than merely thinking upon God in the evening. Soldiers in David’s time, and even in modern times of war, eventually had to serve on on a night watch. These were often isolated and lonely times of staying awake while others rested. The soldier on the night watch had the sole purpose of keeping his eyes open for possible enemy attack.

In addition to this, the “night watch” often referred to those priests who were assigned night duty inside the temple. While everyone else was home in bed these priests roamed the empty and quiet Temple making sure the candles stayed lit and the shewbread stayed warm.

If you walk with Christ long enough you will eventually be asked to serve on a night watch. These will be times when you feel isolated, all alone, everyone else is home safe and warm in their beds but you. The attitude of those on the night watch, whether they be soldier or priest, was “You sleep, you rest, I’ll keep watch.”

When someone does not have the energy to keep watch, we can watch for them, i.e. prayer and intercession. We need to allow people to rest, sleep. We need to allow ourselves to rest and sleep we just need to make sure we have someone to keep watch for us, someone who’ll make sure we will eventually wake up.

Are you on a night watch? Do you know anyone who needs to rest, sleep? Who could you keep watch for? Do you need to rest, sleep? Who could you call upon to keep watch for you? Don’t be surprised when the time comes for your night watch.

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There are more things that make up my work week than just coaching pastors. I always have many projects on the burner. Some of these projects are major, and others minor. I don’t know about you, but I can often feel frustrated, not really overwhelmed, but frustrated with projects that are important to me but keep being pushed back or neglected.

Recently this frustration forced me to develop a way to stay on top of projects whether they be major or minor. The following are the 6 steps I came up:

1. Identify and seperate all those things that need to be done (pressing/time-sensitive) versus those things that I want to do (not pressing or things I find more enjoyable). What could be done and what needs/should be done are often two different things.

2. Compile two lists: List #1, those things that need to be done. List #2, those things I want to do but are not pressing.

3. Prioritize list #1.

4. Systematically work my way down list #1 and don’t worry too much concerning those things on list #2.

3. Peacefully check off a couple things from list 1 (those things that need to be done) then allow myself to do one or two things from list 2 (those things that are not pressing but projects I would find more enjoyable). This will give me an enjoyable break from list 1.

6. Don’t neglect list 2 entirely. Let it be the “break I take” from list 1 which sometimes can be less enjoyable than those things on list 2.

This simple process has reduced significantly my frustration with juggling multiple projects and has helped me to be more productive.

How do you stay on top of multiple projects?

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I got coached!

Recently I experienced the power of coaching when I allowed pastor and coach Marty Boller to help me process the quandary I felt about what my approach should be towards a few writing projects I have. By the time we hung up I felt I had more clarity. This is precisely what good coaching does. And it might be clarity in a relatively small point of something larger but like a tiny pebble in your shoe distracts you from moving forward comfortably, the “small thing” is bigger than it appears.

Now I might have gained the clarity on my own, eventually, without Marty. But maybe not, and maybe not until after a period of procrastination or the common neglect of one project for another when one has on their plate many projects. So… good coaching not only helps with clarity but also speeds up the clarity-gaining process which in turn helps all projects on the plate fall into a more neat an intelligent order from which they all benefit.

Are you in a quandary? Are you struggling to gain clarity or direction? Do you find yourself procrastinating? For some reason do you find it difficult to decide what to focus on first? If so, you might benefit from a coach. Contact me, maybe I can help.

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Nehemiah is a great book to turn to when seeking wisdom for building and leading a church. In fact, I identified no less than ten helpful principles in chapter two alone. One of the unique about Nehemiah was that he loved lists. In chapter three he lists all the men who participated in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. All these men are listed, or sons of men listed. And then we are introduced to Shallhum, an official of half the district of Jerusalem (vs. 12) who, we are told, “…made repairs, he and his daughters.”

All these men banging nails and building walls…and there in their midst is Shallhum and his daughters. I think it’s fair to assume, that for whatever reason, Shallhum didn’t have any sons. He had daughters. A lack of sons was not going to deter Shallhum from doing his part in rebuilding the walls. He had daughters so he worked with what he had…not with what he didn’t have.

Sometimes pastors of smaller churches can focus more on what they don’t have rather than what they do have. I know, I’ve been there. It’s easy to lament, “If I only had more people, more money, someone on staff with me. If I only had my own building or more volunteers then it would be so much easier.” If this is how you’re thinking…you might be right. But you can’t build with what you don’t have. You can only build with what you do have.

Focusing on what you don’t have doesn’t help, in fact it hinders your call to build a church. What resources do you have? You must have some. If you didn’t have any you wouldn’t have a church. Take an inventory of what you do have, not what you don’t have. Look at what you have to build with, no matter how small it might be, and prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to help you discover the best way to use the resources you have. If what you have is limited then you’re not going to be able to do everything. But you will be able to do some things. Discover what you can do and do it well.

Focusing on what you have instead of what you don’t have will result in encouragement for you and a church that is healthy and moving forward. Remember, you build with what you have, not with what you don’t have. Thanks Shallhum.

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Was 20011 a good year for you, an easy one? I hope so, but maybe it was a hard one, maybe things did not turn out as you would have liked. If so, here’s some encouragement from Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

18 Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, 
And makes me walk on my high places.
For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.

Hang in there…God is good, God loves you…even if it does not seem that way at times.

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Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, Greenville and Florence, South Carolina. At just nine years old, the church averages over 10,000 people. Perry wrote an article on why some churches don’t grow. Perry’s article can be found here: http://bit.ly/rWxbxj

This is not intended to be a personal criticism of Perry (I don’t know Perry and I’m assuming he’s a great guy with a great multi-site church) but because his reasons why some churches do not grow are shared by many I thought I’d respond to these popular attempts to explain why churches don’t grow and the underlining assumption that if these reasons can be corrected then the church will grow.

Perry Reason #7 Disobedience to the Scriptures

Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, II Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 19:10…I could go on and on…but we MUST understand that Jesus didn’t come to earth, live here for 33 years years, give HIS life for us and then return back to heaven to intercede for us so that we could get in really little circles and talk about ourselves and condemn those who are not as good as us.  We are called to REACH PEOPLE FOR GOD–PERIOD!

Dave: I’d like to start out by thanking Perry for supplying all you pastors out there with these scripture verses since I’m sure you’re unaware of them. And as I said in my last response, “On an unrelated note, I know that online etiquette changes from time to time but the last I checked, spelling words out in CAPS is your way of yelling. Perry, why are you yelling at me?” Also, I appreciate Perry reminding all of you ignorant, obviously off-tract, pastors out there the reason why Jesus came to earth.

I know there are many church-goers that need to be reminded of the purpose of the church but I don’t know one pastor who does not eat-sleep-and-drink “reaching people for Jesus”. Having a passion for outreach and developing good ways to reach people is still no guarantee that your church will grow. It’s hard and slow to reach people even when you have a passion for reaching people. You probably will not reach many people if you don’t have a passion for reaching people, but every pastor I know wants to, and is trying to reach people.

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My good friend Bruce Vernon pastors a great church in Logansport Indiana. One day we were talking on the phone about the ups and downs of pastoring and how it’s like steering a ship. Bruce mentioned, “It seems like you are either moving into a storm, are in the middle of a storm, or just coming out of a storm.” We both laughed agreeing that sometimes you even get to enjoy calm waters with clear skies. Bruce got me thinking.

Are you heading into a storm? Maybe your going to have to confront someone and you don’t think it will go well. Maybe you’ve got a mini-rebellion brewing and you fear some people might leave your church. Or maybe it’s just that an unusually busy time is on the horizon. How does the smart pastor respond?

When heading into a storm you ask yourself certain questions. What can I anticipate? How can I best prepare? What is the worse case scenario and how can I be ready for it? How can I emotionally and spiritually hunker-down?

Are you in the middle of a storm? Maybe it feels like all hell is breaking loose. Maybe the current pressures on you feel like more than you can handle. Finances are falling, attendance is dropping, morale is walking out the door. How does the smart pastor respond?

When you’re in the middle of a storm remember the following. Don’t panic. Don’t over-react. Don’t exaggerate the magnitude of the problem. Remain calm. Increase “down-time”. Take an extra day off. You need to remove yourself from the storm in order to keep your head above water. Who is going through the storm with you that might need some reassurance from you?

Are you coming out of a storm? Maybe things seem to be calming down. Maybe you feel the worse is behind you. How does the smart pastor respond?

When coming out of a storm evaluate the storm. What can you learn from it? How might you better avoid the same storm in the future? Depending on the intensity of the storm, take extra time off to rest and recoup. Who has gone through the storm with you that might need a pastoral-touch from you?

You’re ether going into a storm, in the middle of a storm, or coming out of a storm. You handle each one differently. And if you are currently experiencing calm waters and clear skies, just float and enjoy it.

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Pertaining to Facebook:

It’s nice to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

Misspelling words makes you look stuped.

Some Christians feel it’s ok to slander and speak contemptuously of others they disagree with politically.

Being poked makes me uncomfortable.

Someone warned me that Facebook can be a time-waster. They were right.

If you have 500 friends probably only 10 are reading your updates.

Some people haven’t aged well.

It’s cheating to use a 15 year old profile picture…unless you’re trying to be funny.

I feel guilty when I ignore someone’s attempt to chat with me.

It concerns me that some people remember me but I don’t remember them.

It concerns me when I act like I remember those people.

Facebook is a forum for some who shouldn’t be given one.

If you post more than 10 times a day you are probably irritating someone. That’s why I only do so 11 times.


Pertaining to Twitter:

Many who say they want to follow me really just want to sell me their products.

It’s hard to say something good using only 140 characters.

Every pastor should be forced to be on twitter so they can learn to say something good in only 140 characters.

People who use those sites that allow you to say more than 140 characters are cheating.

Really pretty girls from Russia always want to follow me.

I feel guilty if someone asks me to RT and I don’t.

I feel guilty if someone follows me but I don’t want to follow them…like pretty Russian girls.

People who use Hootsuite to release 20 tweets all at the same time are cheating.

I like being forced to be brief.

Did I already say that I think every pastor should be forced to be on Twitter?

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