Thursday, October 29, 2009


Athletics provide us with many opportunities for lessons... lessons that we all need to learn and re-learn.

Dez Bryant, the Oklahoma State wide receiver is known as one of the best college football players in the nation. He is a 1st team All- America, and has been a vital player in the resurgence of Oklahoma State football. He has a great personality ( at least from a distance), has stayed eligible in school, has been a good teammate, and in general had a great career.

This summer, it is alleged that he spent time with Deion Sanders and some associates, who at least on the surface seem to be connected to professional agents.(Maybe they were, but maybe they weren't) Apparently someone caught wind of this, and eventually the NCAA began to ask some questions.

In interviews with the NCAA, Bryant was "less than forthcoming." That means "He lied." He did not tell the truth about those encounters with Sanders and friends, because he "thought they might be violations of NCAA rules." So he did not tell the truth.

When it all came to light, what he did was not a violation. It was okay for him to eat dinner with Sanders and even take a jog with him. But the fact that he lied is a serious violation.

I have listened to lots of people who have said, "What is the big deal? He was scared? He thought that what he did was wrong, so he did not tell the truth."

The problem is that this is epidemic in our society. In the last month two promiment Head Coaches and some of their staff in Tulsa High School football have been suspended because they were "less than forthcoming with the information they were asked for." They lied. In the course of things, they did not seem like big deals either. But superintendents were forced to go before the media and announce suspensions, forfeits and other penalties, because according to the investigations , their guys did not tell the truth.

Here is the deal... If people of any walk of life are allowed to lie their way out of trouble, it tears are the fabric of who we are as a culture and people. If we can not trust High School coaches, who lead teams of 100 football players, we have a problem. If coaches can cheat, and then lie about it, or just not tell anyone the total truth (what's the difference?) then we have a problem.

Of course, ( and I hate to bring up the past), but in the middle 90's we had a president who lied under oath about his relationship with an intern, and it got him impeached. Should we be surprised that we hear more and more of this today?

Lying will get you arrested and thrown in jail (ask Martha Stewart). Lying will get you fired. Lying will destroy the trust of those you are closest to.. Lying wrecks your life.

I think God has a better that we should pay attention too.

"He who concelas his sins does not prosper, but who ever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. " Proverbs 28:13

Dez Bryant apparently broke no other rule than the one that says, "Thou Shalt not lie.." After he was caught, he came clean about it...but it has cost him, and his university. I don't like the punishment that the NCAA gave him. I think it is heavy-handed and inappropriate. ( We can debate this...but a one year suspension seems like a bit much here). But it does send a message... maybe a message that others have not been willing to send. If you lie, you will not prosper. You will not get away with it.

Tell the truth all the time.... It just is better that way.

One other verse from Proverbs 28:14- " Blessed is the man who always fears the lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble."

I fear that we have hardened our heart toward "truth-telling". But as I heard all the time growing up..."Honesty is the best policy."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Right Place, Right Time, Right Person

Matt Thomason and I have been in Southern California for the last 4 days. We have seen lots of really neat things. Lots of church things, and lots of beautiful scenery. And of course we have met some amazing people... The Kingdom of God is incredible that way... lots of people who do not know you, but are willing to share and help you, all because of a higher calling to the Kingdom of God.

The highlight of the trip for me came this afternoon. We have been studying what churches are doing to grow, and looking at some different models. One of the models we are very interested in, but we have struggled with one question. Over and over, we have tried to figure out the answer to a question and it seemed like there was no good answer. The solutions we were coming up with were just not right.

So after our lunch meeting, we headed north to see Cindy Minich ( former FCC member and a good friend). We found her place and follow a good visit, we headed out to Saddleback Church. But along the way, God reminded me of Crossroads Christian Church in Corona. We were going to drive through there, so we got off the busy freeway ( freeways are always busy out here.) We found the church and decided to look around. We found the worship center, which seats 3100 people. As we looked around, God put one person in our path who was a video editor for the technology team. He was very friendly and we got to talking.

In the course of the conversation, he told us of a process they work on, which was the answer to the question that we had. As he talked , we realized that this guy was giving us the answer, even though we had not asked the question. It was amzing. We walked out of there 5 minutes later, just blown away about how God had put us at the right place, at the right time to talk to the right person.

It reminds me of Proverbs 16:9. "In his heart, man plans his course, but God determines his steps" I love seeing God do that, and I am glad that we were "smart enough" to listen to his direction.

I think there is a place for good planning...but ultimately if we are committed to listening to God every step of the way, we will always end up in the right place at the right time, even to talk to the right people.

It's a great way to live.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Keep your eyes on God

This morning I was reading from 2 Chronicles 20. The enemies of God were gathered against Jehoshaphat and the people of God. The report had come to Jehoshaphat that there was this vast army that had already gathered in stratetic positions to attack.

"Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and the proclaimed as fast for all Judah. the people of Judah came toghetehr to seek help from the Loed, indeed , they came from every town in Judah to seek him." 2 Chronicles 20:3-4

So the people come and Jephoshaphat prays . (20:6-12) It is a passionate plea for help. His ending line in the prayer caught my attention.

" We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." 2 Chronicles 20:12

Have you been there? I have. I usually get the first part right... "I do not know what to do..." But the second part.... not so much. I usually say, "I do not know what to do, but I am going to do something... and I hope you bless it."

Jehoshaphat had the right plan... "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." We will wait to hear from you. We will do what you tell us to do. We have no other option but to do this.

Of course God answered... told Jehoshaphat that he really had nothing to worry about. God had it under control. God could see the future and He had a plan.

If you read the rest of the chapter, you see how God worked in a miraculous way.

I think alot of this came about because Jephoshaphat just keep his eyes on God. He was bold in his prayers, but patient in his actions. He waited to hear from God, and then let God unfold his plan.

Both in my life and as a church leader I could learn alot from Jehoshaphat. There are alot of unanswered questions about the future. But If I ( and our church ) keeps our eyes on the Lord, He will reveal the plan step by step. It will take GREAT FAITH. It will take OBEDIENCE. It will take PERSEVERANCE. It will take alot of HARD WORK.

But in the end, I (and we as a church) will celebrate. We will praise God for we have seen that 2 Chronicles 20:21 is true.

" Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever."

No matter what you face in your life, keep your eyes on God... listen for his counsel, obey and then watch Him work. That is what makes life and the future so exciting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


WHY? That was the question. It came from a person who knew that Matt and I had been to Chicago a couple weeks ago to talk with some church leaders about some new ways of doing things.

I got to thinking about that question. Why? It's a fair question in most contexts. And certainly, when I am using church money and time, I should be able to answer the question.

But I think part of what bothered me was the blank look on the person's face. I just felt like this person was saying, "Why do we need to think about doing new things? Why do you need to go somewhere else to talk to other people who are doing new things? Why? "

It took my back to a statement I started the year with.


I love that statement. ( I got it from Andy Stanley at Catalyst last year.) What are you dreaming about... or are you just living with your memories?

I have been doing alot of dreaming. I want to dream God-sized dreams that can only be accomplished with God-given power, Spirit-led faith and "whopper" sized committment.

We are on the verge of announcing some of those dreams on Nov. 1st. They are not my dreams... but they are dreams that God has laid on many of our leader's hearts, as we set out to "help others know, love, serve and share Him."

I have never been more excited by our future, and in a sense more overwhelmed by these dreams. But the truth is that God's plans for me, for us always involve faith , committment, big giant steps, and just a little bit of fear and trepidation. Those things keep me grounded... that it is about God and His plan.

Why? That quesiton can be answered by an old worn out saying... "Because if you keep on doing what you've always done, you will get what you have always gotten." ( my paraphrase)

It's a new day. God wants to do new things in us and through us. I am excited..

Be there on Nov. 1st.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Titles and naming babies

She announces that they are expecting a baby....7 1/2 months from now. Could she and her husband be any more excited? The anticipation of the new life coming into their home is very real. There is a healthy reality to the situation as well. Are we ready? Can we really afford this new mouth to feed for the next 18 years? Will everything turn out right? And the big one....


I have been thinking about this..... ( no, no big announcement here from Pam and me!) But naming a baby is a huge deal. Some people stick with family names. Some people stick with Biblical names. Some people pick the names of movie stars, athletic hero's , or politicians. Some names are a combo deal. They combine the names of two grandparents to come up with some sort of interesting name... you know how it goes. There are alot of oddball names out there. You try to be nice....but when they tell you the name they have picked out for their child, there are times you want to say, "What were you smoking when you picked that name out?" ( I never say that.. I just smile and say, "What an interesting name!)

Rick Rusaw once said, "Preaching is like giving birth on Sunday and then waking up on Monday to find out you are pregnant again."

I feel that way sometimes... but it is a good feeling most of the time. Except for the titles. (naming the sermon , so to speak.)

I am working on preaching themes for 2010. I have a over-reaching main idea. I have known where God has wanted to take me in the preaching for the last several months. Lots of thinking, reading, prayer, and talking with people... that's not hard.

Now it is down to where the rubber meets the road. The title. The hardest part of this piece of the planning is series titles and sermon titles. I have been knocking a big chunk of the plan out for the last few weeks...and it is always the titles that get me.

I know what some of you are thinking... "Charlie, it's not the titles that count, its the content." I know that... Don't tell me that... I am with you. But....

I want to be witty... I want those titles to be catchy. I want the title to explode off the bulletin ! I want them to draw people in, snag them , and then lower the boom on them in the message. Hit them right between the eyes (figuratively of course) with the title AND the content.

The problem is that I am not that witty or catchy. I am not a fisherman... and I have a lousy right cross. So this is a big struggle for me.

I look for ideas...anywhere... Other preachers, magazines, movies, quotes... anything to stir some imagination and creativity.

Then I think about others. Does the President of the United States have to title his State of the Union address each year? Nope. It is just the 2009 State of the Union Address Did Knute Rockne title his pregame speech and the Fighting Irish go ready to go out and do battle? I don't know, but most of the time I think they are called, "The pregame talk." How about Jesus? I don't read about him getting ready to go down to the Sea of Galilee thinking in his mind, "Let's see, what am I going to call this talk??? How about "The Sermon on the Mount?" Yeah, that's catchy, witty and creative.

I think about people who write books... and then I read somewhere that the publisher usually title the books... lucky dogs...

So I am left with mom's-to-be and preachers... And guess what? When we settle on a title ( or a name), it is a big accomplishment. It's a break through. A good title means alot. A good name means even more. You can't really delegate naming a baby to some stranger can you? Same with a sermon... A title is your first shot into the minds of hearers and readers. It opens the door to the heart.

And it is a struggle at times.

Naming kids can be a struggle too... Have you ever known a kid that needs to wait to have himself named. It is a stab in the dark isn't it? How do you know that he is going to grow up true to his name? I propose that we wait until all kids are 21 , before they get their name. Hmnnnn.... that won't work.

Well, I can wait till the sermon is done to title it, can't I? ( insert the word, "YES"). So I LABOR ( pun intended) away... Titles are coming... I know they are....

Sermon writing is alot like giving birth. Sometimes they just come fast and furious. Sometimes they take alot of pushing. Sometimes they come in multiples. Sometimes they come in the most surprising places.

But every time, it looks easy if you are not the one carrying the baby ( or writing the sermon). Those of us who are husbands think ( to ourselves if we are smart), "Hey I could do that." I suspect that some people in the pews think the same about the sermon.

You may think it, but a word of advice... DO NOT SAY IT (to either of us.)

One last thing about sermons and having babies... It sure feels good when you get them out...

Now, I have to title this blog...Ugh!