Behind Every Soul

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Behind every soul is a person. And behind every person coming to the moment of surrendering their heart to the lordship of Jesus is someone who’s prepared the ground.

I’m so proud of this team pictured above.

Today at New Life, we had 1,300 people come through our doors, and more people flooding the front during the altar calls for salvation and renewal than I could count [below].

Behind every life that was effected, I’m sure there have been years of prayer and multiple God-instances that brought them to this day.

But there was also this group of people. This group of actors, musicians, tech team, and department heads. And there are even more people not even shown here; this small group is a cross-section of 280 volunteers!

The point is that whenever any of our lives are touched in some way, including my own, there are people behind the scenes, who may not get any glory this side of heaven, who are responsible.

Volunteer in your church: from café worker to usher to cleaner to signer, you’ll be serving countless lives into eternal life.

Happy Easter. He is risen!

All for King Jesus,

ch:

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[Photo by Tony Hayner]

Appreciated

20130130-073129.jpgI try not to bring work home. I think most of us try not to, especially as parents. I avoid checking email, answering texts or phone calls, and many times I just turn my phone off altogether.

Last night, however, I got one of those calls that demanded I run upstairs and try and find a quiet room.

Eva’s room was the only one open, until I noticed she was coloring in the corner. I gave her the elaborate, frantic hand-signals that allowed her the option of leaving as I commandeered her space, but she was content to stay put.

Eventually she did have to leave to go check on a screaming brother. But in her wake she left a note:

Nice job Dad, doing your job!

Positively or negatively, when those closest to us declare something as to our virtue, it makes the crowd’s voice irrelevant. Despite whatever came from that phone call, I had just won the jackpot in my daughter’s eyes. And I took it to the bank.

If God used words to create the world and everything in it, and we are made in his image, be wise with your words today: create something meaningful in someone else.

ch:

Careers vs Jobs

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Unemployment numbers came out today, and all this talk of jobs has got me thinking.

What is a job anyways?

The White House certainly has a particular, shovel-ready idea about them. But really, when I think of a job, what comes to mind? A minimum-wage, temp position doing something I have no desire to be doing when I’m 50.

Flipping burgers.

Mopping floors.

Stocking shelves.

They only way I’d feel dignified doing any of the aforementioned tasks after 25 years is if I owned the burger place, the building with the hallways, or the store with the shelves.

That’s because when our political leaders talk about creating jobs, they really should be talking about promoting practices that proliferate careers.

A job, to me, is something I do to get by. If that’s all we’re focused on creating, we’re in serious trouble. Jobs alone merely lead to a depressed psyche, and a lack of ownership in life, while careers are the thing you could gladly see yourself doing for the rest of you life, either because of the task or the money.

And where do careers come from? Either from people who have a dream, and work to birth their new reality over time at great personal expense to themselves (entrepreneurs), or from those who are hired by someone with a similar dream who has gone ahead of them (employees).

At least, that’s the way the United States has operated, up until today.

Today we’re being offered a new system. At least new to us. But it’s a very old idea. Let the government create the jobs for you. Notice I didn’t say careers. Because government, for all her benefits, can not dream for people. That must come from within, and from above. Careers are created by citizens, jobs are fashioned by government.

Sure, there are certain exceptions, most notably our amazing civilian-based armed forces, as well as particularly useful public service positions. But to bank on these as the sole impetus behind economic growth and future national development is outlandish.

Careers are created by releasing dreamers, even at their own risk, to run the race set before them. It’s not in taxing them, controlling them, or regulating them. It’s not in redistributing their wealth (as wealthy dreamers have a tremendous track record of enabling other dreamers to do the same). This kind of micro-managing leadership has never worked successfully in organizational development, and it has never succeeded in world governments.

That’s because everyone else calls it “Socialism.” We call it “Forward.”

If you’re fortunate to find what you love to do, you’re blessed. If you have the energy to fight for the freedom to do it, you’re a patriot. And if in the wake of your success you can take others along with you, you’re a true benefactor.

So here’s to careers. Not jobs.

Live the dream, and take as many people as you can with you. It’s your role as a human, not the government’s.

ch:

It’s Just a House

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I flip the lights on early this morning and I see that people have been hard at work.

It’s under construction.

Someone’s been in the house.

Preparing. Thinking ahead.

Working with others in mind.

Tonight in this house, hundreds of young people will gather to worship Jesus. Some for the very first time.

Their arrival was planned for.

Intentional.

Deliberate.

The sacrifice of many for the freedom of a few.

Tonight we’ll meet with God. And turn a house into a hall of homes. Where the Holy Spirit can reside.

It’s just a house. Full of miracles.

ch:

Day In List Form

Sprig Records Studio Flooring Consultation: complete

Trade Show Display Booth: designed and ordered

Redline Conference Tshirts: designed and ordered

Meeting with Youth Pastor: complete

Email, Texting, Editing, Web Support: constant

Design Lunch with Jason Clement: thoroughly enjoyed

New Life Christian Church – Master Series Graphic, May 2012: designed and uploaded

:30 Second Auto Commercial Story Board Review: complete

PCI Compliance Troubleshooting: in process

Product Pricing Review: complete

Set List and Rehearsal for Leading Worship at 33 Live Tonight: pending

Program Meeting: pending

Pre-Service Prayer: pending

Lead Worship: pending

Inspiring Awe with Your Passions

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Worshipping the Lord is a lifestyle.

Yes, music plays a key role, as does our response to it. Like it or not, the biggest book in the Bible is a compilation of song lyrics from an elite group of writers. Like a 4,000 year old version of ASCAP/CCLI.

But recognizing all the various ways we bring him glory is paramount in understanding the value of using our passions to bring him glory.

Glory is better defined as “things that summon awe” than the proverbial appearance of a mystic cloud of his presence (though there is Biblical precedent for the later).

Everything you see in this shot was constructed by extremely passionate people. To my knowledge, none of them are of a quality to perform a memorable singing solo, nor would they prefer the limelight to even attempt it.

But this stage set has inspired to many compliments – so much awe – that it’s assisted people in a very direct way of connecting with the beauty and majesty of God.

It’s awe-some.

Not awe-a-lot. That would be Jesus himself.

But our passions + “some awe” = a worship experience that points others to Jesus. That’s ultimately one of the greatest rolls you can play in life.

My heartfelt thanks to Megan Buckles for being Project Manager on this one; and to her husband Dave, as well as Zach, Trey, and Faith. Thank you for inspiring wonder in those who worship at New Life. ch:

Backstage Right

Most people at New Life never see backstage right. And for good reason. It’s ugly. It has a work bench, cables, staging area, racks, shelves, and more odds and ends than we know what to do with.

Yet backstage areas have always been my favorite. There’s a sense of raw anticipation about them. That great things are prepared in these wings. It’s where strings are changed, cables are repaired, cues are made, and prayers are offered that will never be heard elsewhere.

To the public it’s objectionable, but to the performing artist it’s home.

My dad always told me growing up that the most glamorous jobs to the public are actually 90% grunge and 10% glory.

The myth of overnight success is just that – a myth.

People with anything worth promoting have labored and strived and crafted and honed and cried for years.

The public sees the 10% and thinks it’s 100%. So be careful not to make the same mistake when comparing your present creative circumstances with your eventual goals. Anything worth doing is worth taking your time and doing it right. Because your 10% will come.

Here’s to all those wading through the mire of the 90%. Enjoy the journey while you can – it won’t last forever. ch:

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When Succession Becomes Legacy

On the heels of yesterday’s post about Apple’s attention to detail, came the historic business news that Steve Jobs had resigned as Apple’s CEO in a letter to his Board.

Certainly, Jobs’ hand on the helm did more for Apple than most companies could ever dream of. But I was very curious to read his entire letter, as my father always quoted King Solomon in saying, “It is more important how you leave a place than how you enter it.”

In his letter Jobs is as concise and efficient as expected, soft-spoken and honoring. But there was one section in particular that caught my eye:

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

And then it hit me: what’s my succession plan?

The fact is, we’re all going to be fazed out. Terminated. Pink-slipped. Whether in our job or in life, someone – or something – is going to replace us.

The question must be asked then, are we planning for it? Or when it happens, will it catch everyone off guard, including–

(You may not even be able to finish your own sentence).

Good leaders plan for their end, and position replacements accordingly. That’s just good leadership. Because you care about the people and the entities you’re leaving behind. Or else you wouldn’t have risen to that place of stewardship to begin with. (Notice I don’t place Gaddafi in either the leadership or stewardship departments).

Within the first year of our marriage I took out a life insurance policy. Whether I was replaced by another loving husband or not, as a leader I wanted the provisional need felt in my absence to be taken care of. That’s good leadership.

As a Youth Pastor, I know it’s not my call to fill that role forever, so I’m actively preparing the guy that will replace me as I move into my next season of local church leadership.

And as a Christian on the earth, one advancing the Kingdom for God’s glory, I’m training up my children in the ways they should go, believing they will do more, win more, believe more, travel more, love more, live more, and see more for Jesus than I ever could.

In light of those ideas, preparing a succession plan becomes a joy. Because I’m leaving a legacy, not a position.

Is yours in place? ch:

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A Breakdown of Speed

Ask anyone.

They’ll all say they have a busy life. And they’ll all mention how fast time is moving.

But having a gauge on just how fast your life is going can make all the difference on how much you enjoy the moments that are flying by.

Here are some of the tick-marks on my speedometer:

0-10 mph – In this range, I’m relaxed, and most creative thought I have to force to shut down, as well as no talking. Activities include laying in a hammock, napping; at most, reading fiction, at least, sitting on the couch zoned out and on the verge of falling asleep. I’m getting better at making this state intentional, but more often it’s a product of redlining. If I stay here too long, I risk becoming lazy and unproductive; if I don’t frequent it enough, I risk cracking the engine block.

10-20 mph – I’m thoughtful with my time, using it to play with my kids, have casual conversation with family and close friends, read non-fiction, and dream. Oddly enough, most of my creative ideas (as well as direction from the Lord) comes in the shower. This speed seems the most natural, but left here too long and I’ll become discouraged.

30-40 mph – Things are picking up speed as creative ideas demand energy. Tasks around the house get done, and to do lists for artistic and ministry related projects are made, notes gathered. Eventually I’ll leave the home and will have set up shop in my office at New Life. Computers fired up, and starting to engaged with projects. Things feel fresh, and the anticipation of seeing things get fleshed out is exciting. One of the more enjoyable speeds, this pace doesn’t ever last for very long.

40-50 mph – This is where projects take on a life of their own and meet one of three crossroads: #1) they are completed, #2) they are delegated, #3) they are interrupted and delayed. This is a good speed where a lot can be accomplished, but also the place where a lot of #3’s can slam the accelerator to the floor. I’m covering a lot of ground at a pretty good clip, feeling extremely productive.

50-60 mph – This tends to be the speed at which things can go wrong. One completed project provokes another; a delegated project comes back with problems; a present project gets interrupted numerous times. This is typically where frustration sets in. Road conditions, spiritually speaking, are also amplified due to the increase of speed and of the greater handling demands. If my energy level is still high and I have a good team around me, this speed is manageable for a good part of the day. But I often find myself asking for wisdom, strength, and favor from the Holy Spirit, especially as deadlines approach and I feel the not-enough-hours-in-the-day effect.

60+ mph – While only a scooter would redline at 60, for the purposes of my example, this is top speed before the engine breaks down. Here I’m going flat out. Teams are operating, projects are in and out of my office, I’m responding to phone calls, texts, emails, and knocks by the minute. I fight to keep people as my main priority and not tasks or interruptions, and try to complete small jobs that can be accomplished in under 2 minutes. Because of the nature of my work and how many different entities I support or carry entirely, my days can reach top speed within the first hour I arrive at the office for days or even weeks on end. My health – one of my ultimate redlining indicators – tends to fade quickly, and I become susceptible to colds, ear infections, and the flu. My wife is telling me to slow down, as are my closest friends. If I don’t slow down, God makes me. And it isn’t pretty.

When looking at this, it must be noted that the proverbial car was meant to drive at all these speeds. Each gear is designed to be used for various purposes. And left in any one gear for too long, and we fall into error. But if you’re using them all, someone will always criticize you:

“How come you’re being so lazy?” – The person that says this probably doesn’t know you well, and didn’t see your work week. Just smile and nod, and go back to reading your book.

“Slow down or else you’ll burn out!” – Whoever tells you this probably doesn’t know your home-life habits, nor do they understand the weight of reaching souls. There is little time.

The key is finding your stride, your pace. Knowing what gear to transition through or hold in, and when.

There’s a certain rhythm to driving, and being able to anticipate the course ahead – something the Holy Spirit is pretty amazing at – will help you know what gear to be in and for how long. ch:

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Keeping It Fresh

When was the last time you were at work and the thought went through your head, I’m so tired of doing this over and over? It could pertain to just about any element of your life, because repetition is a natural part of our human workflow. Whether you’re at home managing a house full of kids (the most intense job on the planet in my opinion), or sitting behind a computer terminal in an office, you get good at things you do routinely.

But problems set in when you’ve completed that action a million times. Shoot, for some of us, we get bored after the third time. Then enters the overwhelming thought of doing this for the next 12 months yet again. And that’s when–without warning–frustration, lack of enthusiasm, and even depression set in.

That’s where I’ve found keeping things fresh is absolutely essential to keeping my head in the game.

The day I bought my kids a few Nerf guns (note emphasis on buying them for my kids), I thought I was going to pee my pants. While standing in the store isle surveying the myriad of foam-spouting weaponry, I had visions of us chasing each other around the house, diving behind couches for cover, successfully conducting top secret maneuvers through the kitchen…and blasting them in the foreheads while barrel rolling S.O.G.-style across the carpet.

The first few days were just that: Black Ops meets Barney. There were tears, screaming, miss-fires, thievery, espionage, and broken alliances. Everything you need for a good Nerf war.

But like all homes that engage in such land battles, eventually the spark dwindles. No one can find more than one gun (what fun is one?), and who knows who ate all the foam darts. Occasionally someone will find a few darts and blast a brother in the temple. It’s all good. But it’s short-lived. It’s never as fun as it first was.

Until Mommy and Daddy collect all the necessary equipment, and declare an all out war on the kids, during which Daddy sticks a pillow infront of his face, exposing only his huge shiny domed head, and announces a free-for-all contest on who can stick a dart on his melon.

The magic was back.

Often the hardest thing to do when faced with routine is thinking outside the box. You’d think it’d be easy: anything other than what I’m doing would be more fun. But thinking of how to incorporate that anything into your current something is harder than we sometimes think. But finding that elusive fun-factor element can make all the difference. Not only do we start to enjoy what we’re doing again, but productivity increases as well.

I’ve flown mini-RC-helicopters through my office wing, started random-funny-face contests, turned off the lights  for a few seconds while a coworker is in the bathroom, even crawled under the conference table to surprise someone on the opposite end while they weren’t looking. Often exploiting the funny things about your own self can make even the most boring of routines exciting.

With a little work to gather the right resources, and some ingenuity, you can turn yuck into yahoo with ease! What are some things you’ve done to bring a little fun into your workplace? Share more ideas for others below! ch:

Your Church Contribution?

So after reading some blog stuff, following some Twits, and generally taking the pulse of the universe in my spare time, I’ve been prompted to ask a question, which, of course, in true blogging fashion, I won’t get to until the very end of this post.

When assessing the current “state of the Church” in the world, we often point to the success or failure of her leaders, namely, her Pastors. And while I will be the first one to endorse healthy, visionary, vibrant, mature, pastors for the success of any local church, I think we’ve misplaced a lot of the pressure. There are, of course, four other Biblical seats of office in any local church, which we could put pressure on (but most of those people are operating as pastors because we just don’t pay prophets or teachers the same way we do a pastor…something I hope this generation remedies). But even those four seats aren’t where I’m headed.

If the Church is made up of people, and all the leadership is to equip the saints for works of service, I’m wondering if all our “church development” and her inevitable success falls on our shoulders. The people who make up the church. If she is growing, which I wholeheartedly believe she is, and I’m a part of Her corporately, then I want to make sure I’m a part of the building process, regardless of my title or position.

So with that being said, let me ask a question that might be rather hard to have you post a comment about without sounding proud (or shamed). So consider it a comment-free query, a rhetorical blogging question…

Q: What have you done to advance the success of the Church this week?

ch: