Category Archives: General

Spiritual Vitality

“We actually slander and dishonor God by our very eagerness to serve Him without knowing Him.” – Oswald Chambers

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” - Martin Luther


Andy Stanley has famously said, “Cheat the church. Don’t cheat your family.” He’s making a very important point.  Workaholism is the pain that people applaud. We never want to assume that a church planter has mastered the art of balanced living. In fact, the classic profile of a church planter is a man with his hair on fire! Obsessed with work, he can’t put it down, and lives with a low level anger that bubbles over usually in his family life, or a persistent anxiety that robs him of sleep he so desperately needs to keep pushing this terrifying thing forward.


I remember there being days when I couldn’t draw a deep breath because of the anxiety I was feeling. I remember praying, “God I am scared out of my wits about what’s going to happen next, or what is not going to happen that so desperately needs to happen.”  At that moment, what I believed about God was revealed. Did I believe He could be trusted, that He had my back, that he was a good God that would not rip me off?  Or did I wallow in fear and unbelief?  Did I believe He really could not be trusted?

 “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart…” Deuteronomy 4:9 NASB


There are moments in the journey where we need to invite the Lord into the middle of everything and not miss what He wants to say. We need to stop and enjoy him. The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with the first of 107 questions: Q: What is the chief end of man? A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Perhaps the Presbyterians do better at the second of these statements:  “to enjoy Him forever.” The rest of us would be hard pressed if we were asked, “Do you enjoy God?” Seriously?


If we lose the ability to enjoy Him, we are missing the entire point of what we are trying to do!  I must confess, there are times that I do not enjoy God, and I have found that those times are in direct proportion to the amount of time I spend fellowshipping with God through prayer and His Word.

Psalm 27:4 says, The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory. TLB


Here are 7 suggestions for keeping your spiritual life energized:

  1. Spend time with God in prayer every day, and give him your optimal time.  If you want your people to bleed prayer, you must hemorrhage!
  2. Take a day of prayer once per month.  This is not a day off.  This is hard work.
  3. Read, memorize, and meditate on the Word.  Listen to Bible teachers’ podcasts. Most of the great preachers read massive amounts of scripture annually.
  4. Journal – It’s not just for the girls. To remain an emotionally healthy Christian, you need to stay in touch with your feelings, and pay attention to the work of God in you.
  5. Develop the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. Read great works on deepening your intimacy with God.
  6. Enlist a strong network of prayer cover. The common denominator of successful church planters is the degree to which they honored the need for prayer warriors to push back against the spiritual warfare that all planters experience.
  7. Read Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters to understand the insidious nature of idolatry as a current reality that we all wrestle with.  Habitually ask yourself, “Is the supreme object of my affection God, or is it my church plant?”

Raising Up a Prayer Team

Experienced church planters know the intensity of spiritual warfare in the church planting environment. God plants His church through retaking enemy territory, by breaking down barriers and strongholds. Without prayer, the opposition is overwhelming.  Before starting a church every planter should be committed to personal prayer and to the formation of a prayer team.


Here are ten simple ideas for raising up a prayer team:

  1. Pray and ask God to raise people up to pray.
  2. Make a list of individuals who might want to pray regularly.
  3. Invite people from your planting church to join your prayer team.
  4. Communicate your expectations – Total confidentiality, regular communication, at least one weekly time in prayer focused on your plant.
  5. Develop a monthly Prayer e-Newsletter.
  6. Invite the prayer team to be involved in all events, gatherings and activities as a standard part of the execution of your plan.
  7. Calendar to personally contact all your prayer team monthly.
  8. Begin to pray for a Prayer Champion for your church.
  9. Focus your communication on the development of dependence on God in the planting process.
  10. Take some time to think through all the miracles from God that you are going to have to experience between now and the time the church is healthy, thriving, and reproducing.  Help your intercessors see the bigger vision!

 Who are you raising up to pray for your church plant?

Just Love


I was in Austin this week for some meetings at Gateway.  I saw this card and was intrigued. Free portraits is a unique way to serve the homeless. Unfortunately, since my flight left as the event started, I couldn’t go.  When I landed for a short layover in San Diego, I read the following email from John Short, one of the serve pastors at Gateway.


Tonight I meet a couple of volunteers from Gateway that just started dating.  Jim and Debbie.  Jim is from the D (Detroit, as is our family), we hit it off immediately.  Then, Ramy walks up to me and says he met a “legit” guy that needs some help.  He wants me to check his story, so I look over to where Ramy’s pointing and Jim and Debbie are sitting down with this guy Kyle, who is about 19, talking. 


Kyle is tearing up, so I go over to check his story and just see what’s up …what kind of help does he need?  Kyle tells us he has a good job up by Domain as a forklift driver.  He’s from Kansas and he’s just run out of money to pay for a hotel. I Google his work and find a hotel right across the street. Jim and Debbie agree to go with me to the hotel.  Debbie follows us, with Kyle and Jim in car with me.  Jim and Kyle talk MMA all the way to the hotel.  When we get to the hotel to check him in, they give us a break on the price.  Jim and Debbie take Kyle out to eat and exchange numbers after I leave to go home.  They are going to Goodwill tomorrow to get him some shoes and shirts. They plan to bring him to Gateway on Sunday.  Kyle gets paid on Thursday and we we’re able to get him a room until Thursday morning.


Jim and Debbie are the story here.  They were going to go out after, hang with friends, but God had other plans. They potentially changed the trajectory of Kyle’s life tonight.  It’s not just a room, a meal, or clothes, it’s “Just Love.”


It’s amazing what God can do when people are simply willing to love their neighbors.