WHAT COLD CHICKEN, A PARKING LOT, AND PROMISE KEEPERS HAVE IN COMMON
Often times when we look back at old pictures, they bring back laughter and the stories behind each of them. Greg has a good laugh as he talks with Pat remembering their time together at a Promise Keepers conference. During that time together on one of the days, lunch was in a parking garage, on the hard cement in the New Orleans Superdome, now known as the Mercedes Superdome. They also share about the bad hotel room and a two storyMcDonalds in New Orleans on Canal Street with ONE EMPLOYEE with thousands of hungry men from the Promise Keepers event waiting in line. This one employee would ring up one man’s order, then go back to fix the breakfast. Then handit to him and take the next man’s order. It was a looooonnnnggg morning, not just a long line. In the picture is Greg Lancaster, Pat Hamilton, Bill Holzinger and Vince Cooper
THIS IS NOT A LOTTERY!
Greg and Pat sharehow they were doing all they could to raise money to sponsor more fatherless boys to be able to come to the Next Step Outback Father and Son Camping Trips. Not only do fatherless children not have fathers in their live, but they also often live in poverty because of their mother having only a single income to raise all her children. One year, as a way to help raise money to sponsor more fatherless boys to be able to come,they decided to have a raffle. They chose a large screen TV from their local Sam’s Club, who by the way were one of the sponsors for the Next Step Outback’s, and began their raffle. Convicted to make sure what we were doing wasn’t or didn’t look like a lottery, Greg told the leadership, repeatedly, “This is not a lottery!”Greg made sure that everyone on the team was aware, this is NOT a Lottery. As Greg was sharing about the Next Step Outback and the need to raise money for the fatherless, on a local television network, BLABTV, the first thing that came out of Greg’s mouth on LIVE TV was, “We’re having a lottery.” It was a hilarious moment after all this buildup of himsaying this is not a lottery! God is and was faithful each year, for almost ten years, assuring we had an awesome encounter with fathers, sons, fatherless sons, and mentors at these events. God would always show up with His glory presence and melt our hearts. You can see all those who attended standing in front of an 8,000 square foot tent that was called the “Tent of Meetings” where all came to meet our Father and our Father (God) came to meet us. Truly, it was a time of the hearts of the fathers turning to the hearts of the children and the hearts of the children turning to the hearts of the fathers. You can find out more information about this memorable event at NextStepOutback.org.
Small is the New BigPhil Robertson, and Kirk Cameron speak on the Church Dynasty and Its Growing Pains into a Better Way
We find out that Kirk Cameron, of the television show, Growing Pains, and Phil Robertson, of the television show, Duck Dynasty and Unashamed, are family, though they are from two different areas of the nation, they both deeply love the Lordas members of God’s family. Cameron comes from the West Coast, and Los Angeles Hollywood from an upbringing of show business, and now is burning as bright as he can by doing all that he can to share the Gospel to the nations through media. In the same way, Robertson has also lived a life that has impacted many and you may haveseen him and his family on the show ‘Duck Dynasty,’ running a family business of making duck calls for businesses worldwide. Robertson sees the place where our nation is and how theGospel has been presented is not working. Some would think “show business” is what they have in common, but we find out it goes way deeper than that as they look deeply into the struggle in America with today’s church.
Cameron and Robertson recently came together to talk about this important dilemma. As Robertson shares, there must be a way that the world hears and learns about the love of Jesus. “You have to show them through the way you behave. God’s people are the ones who are showing the world what Jesus is like. And if we don’t do it, Cameron, where else is it gonna come from? If God’s people are not gonna show the world around us Jesus, who’s going to do it?” This is such an important truth to recognize. This is very important and needs to be addressed. Robertson shares how the model of what this present generation has labeled as “church” is not an effective way to demonstrate the love of Jesus “And it’s hard to show them that two hours Sunday morning inside a church building. You’re not where they are. If whatever time the church doors are open, if I give you four hours out of 168 in a week. And you’re like, what are you doing the other 164 hours?” Robertson says.
“Where you work is where you can point them to Jesus. Where you work, where you play, that’s where you show them.” It’s like we’ve put God into a box, or as Robertson puts it, “We now have God confined to structures with tall steeples in front of them. [I guess you could call that a Church Dynasty?]They’re all in rows. And you really don’t even really know that person right down there.Phil gestures, as if he is looking down a long church pew at its other end. “Hey how ya doing?” “Pretty good.” One time a week. It’s not enough. Not enough.”
This is such a powerful moment to recognize as Cameron and Robertsonare eating together, having relationship, talking about Jesus. This is the very way, as Robertson explains, this will be accomplished.“You’ve got to have family structures meeting together in their homes, where they eat. Like this… we’re interacting here… we have to do more of that.”You see, Phil took Kirk fishing, showed him how to clean the fish. They cooked it together and as they enjoyed the mealtogether, they had this meaningful conversation. That is what Phil was talking about, exactly what they did together. That is how the church should be the church; it’s family.
FAMILY IS A GOD IDEA
It is so important to recognize that as these men are talking about family, family is not a new idea. Family is not an American, or ‘Western Culture’ idea. Family is God’s idea. God is the one who has designed family. Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus these very words in Ephesians 4:11-16
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Could it be the world is so confused about family because the church is not walking out family? “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, BEING UNDERSTOOD FROM WHAT HAS BEEN MADE, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 God made the family and calls His church His family. Maybe the world can figure out family when the church has returned to what God says family is?
TRAINING ME UP
These are such amazing words! This is the Spirit of the Lord speaking through the words of Paul. Many people have gotten wrapped up into thinking their Pastor hasn’t done things right, when all the time those complaining are more than likely the very ones that the Pastor is trying to lead and speak truth to, because God has a call and a purpose for each of us and they are training us up to do the ministry. Many people think their pastor is supposed to serve them and do the work of ministry, but, as Paul writes, their job is to train us up to do the work. Instead of learning, growing, and acting on what we learn, many get frustrated with the pastors and run them off, or go find another, while never entering into ministry themselves. It’s an American church culture that needs to be shifted back to what God’s word clearly tells us and what Paul just wrote. Family doesn’t leave family, we grow, mature, get trained up and spread the family; expand it from generation to generation.
We cannot do this by ourselves, on our own. Just like children need someone to help teach them, guide them, help them tie their shoes, help them with their homework, so it is the same in the spiritual sense. We need someone to disciple us, to raise us up when we are first born again. What child is mature? None of them. That is why God created parents to raise children until they reach maturity. We all have a purpose and a calling to be raised up into. The five fold ministry, of which the pastor is one, was given to the church for that very purpose.
NEW BORNS NEED TO BE RAISED
It’s interesting that if you’ve ever visited the beautiful sight of the ocean and the continually crashing waves upon the shoreline, often time you will see children playing on the shore. If you look closely, you will notice that children will rarely ever go deeper than they’re able to have solid footing in the sand. If they do decide to wander into the depths of the waves, they can quickly be swept away. Is this what is happening in this present culture? Never before have we been exposed to so many prophetic words, teachings, messages, at our fingertips. If we’re not careful, we can be ‘blown here and there,’ like Paul is talking about. We must have those in our lives that guide us, that teach us, and direct us to solid ‘footing,’solid teachings of Christ.
EVERY PART MATTERS
This is God’s design to be walked out and learned within the context of family. It is interesting how the Church is described with these words, ‘Body of Christ.’ Look at our natural bodies. We all have joints that connect one part of our body to the other. How important are your legs for walking? If our legs are important, how important are our joints? Imagine taking out someone’s knee, or their hip. How long would they walk? Not very long. Just like every joint is important to the functioning of the natural body, so every believer and church family being healthy and functioning in their role is vital to the health of the Body of Christ, the spiritual family. No one part of the body is more important than the other.
HEALTHY FAMILIES COME IN DIFFERENT SIZES
Jesus plainly said in Matthew 18:20 that, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Some have understood that a gathering must be a large gathering, and the larger the gathering the greater the impact. It’s actually quite the opposite effect. When you look at some of the largest Church gatherings in America, the local communities around them have the worst social statisticsaccording to Kris Vallotton, except for four or five cities he found in his study. The larger the gathering, the less likely it is that people will recognize the individual responsibility to carry out what Jesus has called them to do. At the end of our lives, we will stand before the Lord and the lives we lived will testify about us, and we will have to give an account to Jesus for that life we lived.
HONOR JESUS’ BRIDE
Regardless of what “part” we may be in the Church, there are other parts of the body, that may be different, but that doesn’t make them any less important. It’s all the Church, each part has equal value. Truth be told, the Church is the “Bride of Christ.” Can you imagine how a man would respond if someone came up and instantly started criticizing his wife? It wouldn’t go well. How do you think the heart of Jesus is being affected if we criticize the Church? We can’t do that, yet there are some people that live their lives specializing in being fault finders of Jesus’ Bride. It’s not our job to discourage the Church, but to lift her up and encourage her. What better way than to relate and live in the fullness of God’s family expectations for His Church. It’s there each has the opportunity to be mutually encouraged.
IF IT DOESN’T WORK IN A CAVE, IT WON’T WORK IN A BUILDING
What is important to understand and begin to ponder, is that we must break the mindset that in order to walk out what Jesus expects of us as His Church, it requires a multi-million-dollar PA system, and building. Greg and Pat speak about their time in Israel and how much smaller things are there and how the places we read about in the Bible were so much smaller. For anybody that has traveled to Israel, you see that everything is small compared to what is described as “normal” in America. If what you do doesn’t work in a cave, or in a coffee shop, then it simply will not work. But, if it does work in a cave or in a coffee shop, or in a living room, it will work in a large building. You may ask why I say “cave.” Well, in some of the first centuries of the church, much was spent under great persecution, they had to secretly meet in caves. Guess what, IT WORKED! Because they lived and thrived in persecution, having to meet in caves, we, the church, are here today.
It’s just so special when the Church comes together as family, breaking bread with one another, and spending time together. Instead of a “meeting” I like to call it “mEATing” because we always eat when we meet just like Jesus did. He did it so much, some people wrongly accused Him of being a glutton. Why? Because He ate with those who were His. It’s interesting how much we’re able to learn about people when we eat together. How special a moment is when someone invites you into their home, into their kitchen, and cooks for you. Presently, in many homes in America, people live individualistically. They live separately. They eat separately. They live isolated lives though they are in the same family and same house. If you want to strengthen your family, begin to eat together and pray together.
This is how the Lord wants his Church to gather and walk out life together. When we say family, we’re not necessarily talking about natural family, but spiritual family. Jesus said very specifically to make the distinct difference between biological family and natural family when someone interrupted Jesus teaching as Matthew 12:47 states, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” Verses 48-50 reveal Jesus’ clear response, He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”We, who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord are true Blood Family, related through the Blood of Jesus.This doesn’t separate your natural biological family from you, it shows how they are presently not a part of the family of God, if they have not yet accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but also how they can join the family of God. How they can join the Blood Family!
Even if you have a Christian family, if you weren’t trained up to be family, your understanding of “being family” can still be dysfunctional. To assume the revelation on how “to be a family” drops supernaturally out of the sky because you decide to have a family is ridiculous, yet most people live and decide to have family based on this assumption. Like in all things, we need to “learn” how to be family. It takes a humble man, a humble woman to admit that, but it’s a lot less humbling than that same man and woman going through divorce and their family being ripped apart. We need to see how family is supposed to be through the lens of God’s Word and leadership of His family. It is only by God’s hand and grace that family is held together and God’s Word, scripture, that tells us how God intended family to be.
THE WHY? FOR THE CHURCH, IS CHALLENGED BY SIMON SINEK 53:54 – End
Simon Sinek, who rose to fame by challenging us to find out our “Why” in our lives, businesses, corporations, and ministries flips it all on its head, in a good way, when he is asked how the COVID-19 lockdowns, and the working from home and the smaller gatherings taking place is having an impact on the church. He calls this an opportunity saying “the purpose of the church is to SPREAD THE GOSPEL!“
The world that we are presently in is a night and day difference compared to where things were two years ago. Many throughout the world were taken by surprise when they found themselves on lockdown, having to live life now solely from their homes. Where many were “going to work” now they are “zooming” into work. One pastor Carey Nieuwhof, recently sat down with Simon Sinek to talk about the changing culture of today and how the Church can respond.
BREAKING THE MOLD
Sinek begins to share about the traditional model of medicine in society.So, look at a medical office. Right? Older generation, you have “your doctor.” That’s my doctor. My doctor is the best doctor. I go to “my doctor.” No matter what it is, if it’s the common cold or something severe, I go to “my doctor.” Right, and I go to this horrible waiting room. Very few people feel recognized or valued in that business model or operational structure of how doctors interact with their patients in that current design. But then, this generation has begun to approach how they view a doctor differently.
Sinek continues,“And then there’s a young generation that says, “I don’t care. For basic medicine? If somebody’s got the right degree, then they probably know how to give me an annual medical check or treat my cold. Right? I don’t need a specialist.” What would that even look like?
Sinek points to a new breakthrough company called ‘OneMedical.’ And so, you have an organization like OneMedical that shows up, where you walk in, and it feels like you’re at Pottery Barn. And it’s beautiful and the doctor doesn’t wear a lab coat; she comes up and says, “Hi. I’m Stacey.” Instead of you know, “I’m doctor whatever.” Right? And the customer service is incredible. And you can call, and you can talk to the doctor, or talk to them virtually, and they reply to your emails within 24 hours. It’s amazing! It’s amazing! Right!?”Simon says.
THINK OUTSIDE “THE BOX”, OR SHOULD WE SAY, THINK OUTSIDE “THE BUILDING”
What we’re now finding out is that how things were always done is not necessarily how things need to be carried out moving forward. This is where Sinek then begins to connect this same application as to how the Church can change their model of thinking in today’s culture. He goes on to say, “And so, I think the Church can learn from that. Which is, the opportunity to spread the Gospel. Nobody said that it has to be done one way. Nobody said it has to be done in one location, at one time, at one, you know, that suits you. And the people who like to schedule their entire day about going to this one location at this one time. Who said? Where is that written that it has to be done thatway?”
IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS
Carey Nieuwhof responds, “Well in the early Church, it wasn’t. It’s just been that way for a few centuries.” Sinek continues, “There you go. You see, we got used to it, and now we think it’s the way it’s always been.We must begin to think differently. Yes, there may be people that don’t want change and like things the way they are. That is fine for them. What about those who don’t want the old manner of thinking? How can we change the present model of thinking to adapt to our changing world? Sinek begins to share some profound insights of possibilities. “What if people want to worship on their own time frame, in their own location, or in a remote location? Or I want to move from one city to another city, but I want to keep going to the same Church, the same people, with the same community, how come you don’t allow me to do that? And the Church’s opportunity is they’ve forgotten, the responsibility of a Church is not to get people in the pews. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH IS TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL. So, take advantage of changing cultures, and changing politics, and changing technologies, and find new ways. That’s existential flex.”
How powerful is that? The purpose of the Church is to spread the Gospel! This unfamiliar environment may have snuck up on the nations of the world, but they definitely didn’t sneak up on God. This is a divine opportunity. This causes us to remember the final words that Jesus made known to His disciples before He ascended back to Heaven when He spoke in Matthew 28:19-20, “THEREFORE GO!and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
MEET MY BUILDING
How can we invite someone to “come” to Church if Believers“are” the Church? We cannot go to what we already are. Yet, it’s the fact that you are the church and the Christ in you draws you to Christ in them. It may look the same to others, but when it’s Christ drawing us together, He is the center of all things and Who we have in common. Many believers, when they want to lead someone to Christ, think about first inviting someone to a building they call “the Church” versus inviting someone themselves to know Jesus. Though they profess to know Christ, they lead the person to a building, never understanding that they are the “Building of God”, that they are the “Temple of God” and God’s Spirit dwells inside of them. They don’t know that they can lead that person, themselves, to Christ. Yet, when they invite them to the building, they expect the building to lead that person to Christ. They lay the burden on one pastor as fifty, a hundred, or one thousand of them look on and see if their pastor will do their job. We are all called to be witnesses for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the present mold we’ve adapted has lifted that reality from many in the church. When modeling family, gathering as the family of God, everyone knows it’s all our jobs to let everyone know of the Good News of Jesus Christ no matter where or how they meet or what we meet in or meet at. Not only do we know it, we all help each other in leading people to Christ and celebrate together when someone else is born again into the family of God.
Many people look at the present model of the Church and wonder why things are the way they are. Maybe you remember the game that many of us may have played together as school children, “telephone.” Gather a few children together and give a message to the first one. Instead of telling every child in the room, tell the first oneto your right. Then that child whispers the message to the next child on their right so that the other children cannot hear, and the message is whispered to the next, one by one, until the last child gets the message. Everyone would be giggling with anticipation wondering what the last child heard. Laughter would erupt as the last child shared what they heard, and it was nothing like the first child shared. It is a funny game involving a dozen school children.
Now imagine one specific message that Jesus gave to His disciples 2,000 years ago! Haven’t we done the same thing? Instead of laughing and asking “what was the original word” as children do, we just continue on, besides we’ve got to pay this mortgage payment on this building, right? We can fix this by going back to God’s Word, scripture, instead of depending on what someone told someone, who told someone, who told someone over the past one hundred years. Jesus calls it, “returning to your First Love.”
FREE AT LAST
What God is about to do is so much larger than any building can handle, including mega buildings. For us to be a part of what He is going to do in these last days and with this last days harvest we have to understand that we, as believers, are the building of God. We are called to GO tell others, everyone, everywhere and Jesus will go with us as we do. We must begin to learn how to BE the Church outside of a building in our everyday life. “Free at last, free at last, thank God O’ Mighty, free at last.” Jesus came to set you free to follow Him and to spread the Gospel to those who have not yet heard of Him. This will take place in your neighborhoods, your homes, your workplace, your community, schools, states, nation, and world. What all these have in common, they are not in one building.
If this is new to you and you have not invited Jesus into your life, YOU CAN! You may have heard about Jesus, but you never knew that Jesus wants you to be a part of His family. You can read more storiesabout inviting Jesus into our lives and do the same at MeetMyFather.org! What a powerful moment!