How we helped plant a church - Part 5

Let's wrap this up, shall we?

For me, throughout the entire process of getting this plant off the ground, I kept trying my best not to claim ownership of anything. This church was not mine. The people were not mine. The "how's" and the "why's" were not mine. The vision was not mine. Satan certainly tried to convince me otherwise. I was just the point man. The steward. The Shepherd. God was and is the owner of The Church.

Christians who think they are "owners" are some of the most dangerous church members. They have attitudes that can literally tear a church apart at the seams. They are self-centered, not Christ-centered. They are consumers, not contributors. They are needy, not giving. They have an agenda, not a team-attitude. They seek glory for themselves, not for Christ. I did not want to be like them. But at times, it was (and is) quite a fight!

There came a time when a Campus Pastor was hired to lead our budding church. As the Steward, it was my role to step aside and let him take the lead. It was painful, I won't lie. There was a lot of blood, sweat, tears and prayers invested on my part. And yet, it was also a relief. All of the stresses and pressures of leadership were now off my shoulders (after all, I had a day job too). I wanted to "own" the leadership role, but I knew that wasn't the role God had for me. I was not the rightful Owner to begin with.

Have you considered that you are trying to "own" something in your church that isn't yours to begin with? What is it?

As Promised...Heeeeere's Johnny! (if you're squeamish, don't look)

Can you count the 7 screws? I'll give you a hint: there's 2 screws side-by-side on the far left. Look at how long that one screw is going left-to-right starting at the far left (and it's bent too). The doctor told me before the surgery that some people opt to go back and remove the hardware later. HOW?

Close-up of the damage. Notice the indentation of my forearm on the left side of the strips. That's from swelling.

OK, it really hurt to make this pose happen (thus the grimace). What you're looking at is my left elbow fully exposed post-staple removal. There's some steri-strips, kinda like band-aids, holding the incision closed. That's one big scar. Still pretty swollen and discolored along my forearm towards my wrist.

Believe it or not, I'm really not in a lot of pain. I attribute that to all your prayers, so please keep them coming!

I'm Free!!!!!

Sorry for the absence. It's a little difficult and frustrating to type with one hand. But, the good news is I went to the doctor yesterday and he took my splint off and told me I didn't need a cast. WooHoo! I just have to be extra careful and do some exercises with my hand to help push fluid out of my lower arm (it's still pretty swollen). But the good news is I AM FREE!! So now I can type with two hands and I've been itching to blog. Or maybe it's just the dead skin on my left arm?

Later today, if all goes as planned, there will be cool pics of my arm.

Just to recap:
  • Jan. 15th approximately 11:20 pm: Fell off the attic ladder fracturing my olecranon. These pics are eerily close to what mine looked like. For those who don't know, "olecranon" is the medical term for elbow; derived from Latin it means "automatic surgery if broken."
  • Jan. 18th at 2 p.m.: Surgery to fix broken olecranon. The last thing I remember as they were putting me under was the doctor saying "Are the bionics ready?"
  • Jan. 28th at 2 p.m.: The great unveil occurs. Up to now, I haven't seen my elbow. I was shocked to see how big my scar was, and how mangled my arm looked from swelling. Total damage: 14 staples, one titanium plate, and 7 freaking long screws! And yes, I will set off metal detectors at airports from now on. Looking forward to that.

Seriously, thanks for all your prayers and encouraging words.

How we helped plant a church - Part 4

October 2001: The first vision-casting meeting went very well. Two weeks later, we had another and most everyone who came to the first were there plus more. Needless to say, we were all excited to be a part of a new thing God was going to be doing not only in Tulsa, but around the world someday. We were ready to start doing life together.

Our role metamorphosed from "gatherers" to "shepherds." Shepherds care for the flock. They see that the needs of the flock are met. They protect the flock from predators. Shepherds are not Senior Pastors - nor should they portray themselves as such to their flock. Shepherds are to lead the flock in the direction the Senior Pastor is going - not where the Shepherd thinks the flock should be going.

How else do you feel Shepherds and Senior Pastors differ?

How we helped plant a church - Part 3

Once we said "Yes!" we quickly went to work. Initially, our role was to be "gatherers." The leadership of Lifechurch.tv supplied us with a list of names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses they had compiled over the years of visitors from the Tulsa area. Our job was to try and contact as many of them as possible, invite them to the first vision-casting meeting, and get a final headcount so preparations could be made. Needless to say, we tore through the list like there was a pot of gold at the end of it!

From this process I learned the following:
  • The leadership had a plan. The fact that they had hundreds of people's contact information showed me they had been planning for this for quite some time.
  • God had a plan. How on earth can you explain the phone call from Lifechurch.tv at the exact moment we were filling out paperwork to join another church? And why on earth would they call us?
  • Both plans were brought to fruition by prayer.

If you feel called to plant a church, do you have a plan? Do you have any "gatherers" to help?

How we helped plant a church - Part 2

March 2000: I was in my last semester of pharmacy school and it became apparent we were going to be moving from OKC to Tulsa, OK due to my new job. Needless to say we weren't particularly thrilled about leaving our church and friends behind. It was about that time, with the urging of a friend of mine named Sean Vollendorf, we began to earnestly pray God would lay it on the hearts of our church leaders to plant a campus of Lifechurch.tv in Tulsa.

Fast-forward to September 2001: We had been in Tulsa almost a year-and-a-half now. Despite visiting multiple churches we couldn't help but feel like God had something more in store for us. Throughout this whole time, we had kept praying "God turn the attention of Lifechurch.tv's leaders towards Tulsa."

And then, one night it happened. As we were filling out paperwork to join a local church, a pastor from Lifechurch.tv called and asked if we would be willing to help plant a campus in Tulsa. We said "yes!" and immediately threw the paperwork in the trash. God had heard our prayers.

I'm convinced God wanted us in Tulsa for a purpose. I'm also convinced the ONLY way this plant happened was because of prayer. Do you believe the local church is the hope of the world? Could you be facing a relocation in the near future? Do you feel called to help your current church plant a new campus where you're going? START PRAYING!

Have you considered being a church planter? Where?

How we helped plant a church - Part 1

In his book entitled Courageous Leadership Bill Hybels said that he believed with all his heart that "the local church is the hope of the world." Let that soak into your brain a little bit. Do you believe that too?

In October 2001, my wife and I opened our home to approximately 20-some-odd people, many of whom were total strangers, to prayerfully discuss the possibility of starting a new type of church in our area. 7 years later our dreams have become a reality with almost 3000 people attending weekly. Also, a new separate campus on the other side of town was launched out of ours just last week. And we are only getting started!

This week I'd like to share with all of you how we got involved and took part in this amazing journey. My prayer is that you will see how tentmakers can make a Kingdom difference. Also, maybe you might feel called, as my wife and I did, to venture out and help plant a church. Believe me, there isn't a more rewarding experience in this world!

If you were asked today by your church leadership, would you be willing to help plant a church? What would be some of your reservations?

Just call me Capn Hunt & Peck

So, my blogging topic of Heaven could've become a reality for me last night. I gracefully (or graceLESSLY) fell off my attic ladder landing square on the back of my head and left elbow. My head, ironically (no jokes please) is fine. My elbow not so much. One trip to the ER, some X-rays, a whole lot of PAIN and a few hours later served to confirm what I had feared...I broke my elbow. And good too.

Surgery is scheduled for Friday and I would appreciate all your prayers. In the meantime, I'm left to hunt and peck out my blogs for your viewing pleasure. At least I'm right-handed!

Will there be autographs in Heaven?

I absolutely relate to the Apostle Peter in many ways. He was brash and impulsive. He was at times fearless and yet also fearful. He was a screw-up. Apparently, he could also be a little star-struck. His reaction at the Transfiguration cracks me up...which got me to thinking.....

When we get to Heaven, we'll be able to hobnob with all the great men and women of the Bible. We could have breakfast with Adam (no fruit, please), sing along with David (lyres provided), walk with Enoch (God will probably join us too), and recline at a table with JC Himself (no utensils necessary). I won't lie...I'm totally pumped about getting to meet all of these great people and more. I'll probably even ask for their autograph.

What about you? What person from the Bible are you looking forward to meeting in Heaven? What would you like to ask them?

Heaven must be full of Lortab!

Revelation 21:1-4 is an exciting piece of Scripture to me, but I especially love verses 3 & 4.

Lately I've been daydreaming about Heaven - what it will be like, look like, feel like, etc. So, this week I'd like to share with all of you my thoughts and hope you'll share some of yours. Are you ready? Here goes!

So, can you imagine what it will be like to never, ever have pain? From my perspective as a pharmacist, trust me, I see this world is wrought with pain. Physical pain. Emotional pain. Financial pain. Divorce pain. Oops she did it again and again pain. Ice cream-frozen-brain-pain. OK, the last one I added for comical relief because I was getting a little freaked out, but I think I made my point. This world has hurts.

From a personal perspective, I've seen my wife - the love of my life - endure the most horrendous, gut-wrenching, "God-are-you-there?" kind of pain over the past 5 years. She has endometriosis. It hurts me to see her hurt so badly. Personally, I've broken my leg twice. The last time the doctor gave me a painkiller called Lortab. I must've been in Heaven 'cause I was feeling no pain while I was taking that medication!

I'm thrilled God has a plan to destroy pain once and for all. Tears are going to be a thing of the past. One day, in Heaven, we all could be sitting around sipping on coffee drinks remembering the days when we actually could cry. Then again, probably not.

What are your thoughts? What pain(s) are you looking forward to be rid of the most?

iHappy Friday!!

I love music. Always have, always will. Except country - that's not music. There's a reason Jesus renamed Simon to Peter (the Greek meaning of his new name is "Rock!").

Anyways, I was curious as to what you all were listening to on your snazzy iPods? Me? Right now I'm digging the following:
  • OneRepublic's "Dreaming Out Loud"
  • David Crowder Band's "Remedy"
  • Anberlin's "Lost Songs"
  • Avril Lavigne's "The Best D#!m Thing" (edited title by me)

How about all of you?

Everytime you tell a lie....a puppy dies.

OK, OK, so let's state the obvious. This is NOT an absolute truth. If it were, God help us all! I also have to give credit to http://www.xxxchurch.com/ for the inspiration for the title of this particular blog - for you early xxxchurchers you'll know what I'm referring to. And for all the animal rights people out there, no I do not endorse or wish cruelty upon animals - keep reading.

Webster's defines a lie as "something that misleads or deceives." The worst thing about a lie, in my opinion, is that is oftentimes appears believable. It can wear the cloak of truth, but underneath the disguise is a filthy, ravenous beast who wants to destroy you. My pastor once said (I'm paraphrasing here) "A lie believed to be true produces illegitimate fruit in a person's life." Satan's best weapon against us is to get us to believe a lie or several lies about ourselves. For example:
  • No one loves you.
  • You are utterly and completely alone.
  • You are perfect just the way you are - everyone else is is flawed.
  • No one has the right to tell you how to live your life. You make your own rules.
  • If you take one more drink you'll feel better.
  • Porn is absolutely awesome! It doesn't hurt anybody to look, does it?

Beware of lies brewing around inside your head. I notice them as negative "self-talk." I have to fight like mad not to believe them.

What about you? What lies have you been battling?

There absolutely is absolute truth!

There is a war raging like never before in our modern era. It's sometimes subtle and quiet, sometimes visible and loud. It's the war on absolute truth, and as Christians, I feel we should certainly be alarmed and armed to defend it.

Postmodernism has perpetuated our culture today. While it's certainly a lengthy discussion to describe, a simple definition would be: a belief that truth is what you make of it - there are no absolutes.

I've always been amazed at those who write off absolute truth without giving a brief moment to think about it. I define absolute truth as: something that is true for all people for all times. And I offer these examples to illustrate it does indeed exist:
  • 2+2=4. It's true for me. It's true for you. It was true for my earliest ancestor and yours. It will be true for our future children's children's children. It's true in American and in China. It's an absolute truth.
  • If I drop a rock from my hand in my yard it will hit the ground. If I travel to Africa and drop the same rock it will....you guessed it, hit the ground. If I left said rock in a time capsule with explicit instructions for whoever opens it 100 years from now to drop it, guess what? It will hit the ground. Gravity is an absolute truth!
  • George Washington was our first President. 1000 years from now, he will still be known as our first President. Even people all around the world know George Washington was our country's first President. It's an absolute truth.

So, if absolute truth doesn't exist, why do we even have the word "truth" in our vocabulary?

What's your thoughts?

I'm not Superman...but I wish I was!

I love the comic Calvin & Hobbes. Check out this one. I can totally relate and here's why - there was a day, when I was a kid, that I believed I could fly. Just like Superman, up, up, and away! In fact, you could say that I had an unflinching faith in my flying capabilities.

What did I do about it? Like James says, faith without actions is dead, right? So at the tender age of 5-years-old I took a leap of faith. Literally. Off the very tip-top peak of my house. One broken leg-second-later (can you say ouch?) I realized one very important lesson - misplaced faith, although genuine, can be harmful.

I define "misplaced faith" as a belief in something that isn't absolutely true nor based upon an absolute truth. I believed I could fly. The truth of gravity didn't care. No matter how hard or how much I believed - I could not change the absolute truth of gravity. Absolute truth is true for all people for all times.

This week I want to focus on some absolute truths. I hope you all will join in the discussions.

What are some absolute truths you've learned the hard way?