Category Archives: Spiritual Health

Musings on what it means to be a spiritually healthy person.

Making a Presentation in Crown Point

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

I’m writing this post from Jen’s parents’ house in Weeler, Indiana because tomorrow, Jen and I have the privilege of presenting our vision for Lafayette to Hillside Community Church in Crown Point. I will be giving our basic presentation during their Sunday School time. Then, I will be preaching at the morning service and leading an interactive study at their evening service as well.

If you think of us tomorrow, please pray that God would give us favor with some key members of the congregation there and that we could have some kind of partnership develop between us and Hillside!

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Greasy Farklehead

Childlike

The following in an excerpt from a children’s book, Captain
Underpants. And the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants

by Dave Pilkey. The evil Professor forces everyone to assume
new names…

Use the third letter of your first name to determine your new first
name:

a = snickle
b = doombah
c = goober
d =  cheesey
e = crusty
f = greasy
g = dumbo
h = farcus
i = dorky
j = doofus
k = funky
l = boobie
m = sleezy
n = sloopy
o  = fluffy
p = stinky
q = slimy
r = dorfus
s = snooty
t =  tootsie
u = dipsy
v = sneezy
w = liver
x = skippy
y = dinky
z = zippy

Use the second letter of your last name to determine the first half
of your new last name:

a = dippin
b = feather
c =  giggle
d = burger
e = chicken
f = barffy
g = lizard
h =  waffle
i = farkle
j = monkey
k = flippin
l = fricken
m =  bubble
n = rhino
o = potty
p = hamster
q = buckle
r =  gizzard
s = lickin
t = snickle
u = chuckle
v = pickle
w =  hubble
x = dingle
y = gorilla
z = girdle

Use the third letter of your last name to determine the second half
of your new last name:

a =  butt
b = boob
c = face
d = nose
e = hump
f = breath
g =  pants
h = shorts
i = lips
j = honker
k = head
l = tush
m  = chunks
n = dunkin
o = brains
p = biscuits
q = toes
r =  doodle
s = fanny
t = sniffer
u = sprinkles
v = frack
w =  squirt
x = humperdinck
y = hiney
z = juice

Thus, for example, George W. Bush’s new name is Fluffy
Chucklefanny. Now when you comment on this, be sure to include your new name!

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My honor depends on God

Front Page My Spiritual Life Personal VIP

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.—Psalm 62:7

I was reading Psalm 62 this morning for my quiet time, and this verse popped out to me. Reading it sparked a little “wow” moment somewhere inside me.

Everything about this verse is almost cliche to me. Sure, my salvation depends on God. Sure, he is my mighty rock. Sure, he is my refuge. All those things are “old hat” to someone who has been in the church since he was born.

However, there is that extra little word thrown in there—honor. My honor depends on God.

It just got me thinking. How much time do I waste during my day trying to preserve or earn “honor” for myself? I imagine that 90% of my day is about gaining honor in some way.

When I do my todo list, my motivation is usually to impress someone. I want to impress my wife who really values getting things done in a timely way. I want to impress the people I know in Lafayette, so they will trust me more as their pastor. I want to impress unbelievers so they will listen to my message. Whenever I do anything, on some level, I’m trying to earn honor from others.

But my honor depends on God.

That’s a new thought for me. I have always thought that my honor depends on me and my performance. Sure, people tell me all the time that “It doesn’t matter what you do as much as it matters what kind of person you are,” but when it comes to honor or reputation it really seems to depend on what I do, doesn’t it?

Well, according to King David. Our honor doesn’t depend on what we do before people. Our honor depends on God. My honor—how I am evaluated by others—doesn’t depend on me or on the fickle nature of other people. My honor depends on God.

Now that is a refreshing thought!

Suddenly, I feel more empowered to focus my energies on pleasing God rather than people. If it is true that my honor really depends on God, then he should be my only concern. I should invest myself in pleasing him, and if he so desires to honor me in the eyes of others, that is his prerogative. If my honor really depends on God, then my attempts to please others will always yield lackluster results.


Lord, I just want to thank you for teaching me this lesson today. I want you to please you. I want to concern myself more with how I stand before you than with anything else. And I want to know what means to stand before you robed in Christ. I want to know your grace.

Thank you for showing your grace to me this morning by teaching me something new. Help me to always remember that my honor isn’t about how well I can impress people. My honor depends on you.

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Top Ten Prayer Requests — December 2005

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

Jen and I have been regularly sending out our prayer requests every few months or so, and I thought that I’d post our next set on the blog here. God has really been answering some prayers too, so I’ll post some praises first:

Praises:

  • Jen and I have signed final approval paperwork on our house. As soon as the building permits get approved, they will start the work. Praise God for helping us make those decisions.
  • Greg is continuing to tell people about us and get us contacts with people moving into the area. Praise God for helping us meet him!
  • Packing and move preparations are coming along nicely, and we plan to make the move on January 2! Praise God that Jen enjoys packing!

Our Top Ten Requests for December.

Here are our top ten requests for this next month.

  • That our priorities would be God’s priorities.
  • That God would prepare the hearts of key people in Laf. to receive the gospel.
  • That our funding would jump to the next level soon.
  • That our final month at NWBC would be filled with grace.
  • That our move to Laf. on Jan 2 would go smoothly with good weather.
  • That Charlie would have good good-byes with his friends here in Chicago.
  • That God would guide our decisions about our new home.
  • That we would be able to finalize our church name and incorporation.
  • That we would have wisdom raising our kids.
  • That God would continue to work miracles for his own glory!
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Greg’s Story

Front Page Lafayette Spiritual Health

While Jen and I were looking for a home in Lafayette, God led us to
meet a man who not only would sell us a great home, but who also was to
join us as one of our first ministry partners. We still can’t believe the
amazing ways God is working to bring us together with people who love him
and are eager to share his love with others. I have asked Greg to share
just a little of what God has been doing in his life. Here’s his
story.

My name is Greg and I am a recovering drug addict and a Christian. At
this writing I have 485 days clean from drugs and alcohol. I can honestly
say that with the help of Narcotics Anonymous and God’s grace that the
obsession and compulsion to use drugs has been lifted from me.

I used to see the world very differently. Today I have had a
spiritual awakening as a result of working the 12 steps and developing a
relationship with God. I feel a great calling to give back what I have
received, unconditional love, understanding, fellowship, and serenity. I
look forward to the opportunity to serve God and my fellow man. I don’t
see coincidences anymore, I see God at work in my life.

My life has been a series of chaotic events up until these last 16
months. My Father abused me both physically and emotionally from as early
as I can remember. My parents divorced at age 5 and my Mother re-married
at age 6. My Stepfather was in the restaurant industry and we moved 13
times from ages 6-14. I continued to be sent to my Father’s home during
this time where he would abuse me, and then threaten me so that I
wouldn’t tell my Mother. At age 14 our relationship ended because he
was convicted of molesting my stepsister. At age 15 I tried drugs for the
first time. At age 16 I dropped out of high school. Ages 16-32 were a
haze of drugs, jobs, and bouts with depression, rage and
resentment.

At age 25 I got involved in a church in East Lansing Michigan. My
Wife and I were baptized and were married there. I caught a glimpse of a
spiritual life. But, 1 month before my Wife and I were to be married we
moved in together. An elder of the church found out and came to me with
these words, “I will not stand by and allow you to sully the name of
Jesus Christ!” My Wife stayed with a girlfriend until we were married,
but I let a resentment grow. We were married in that church, and I never
set foot in it again. It wasn’t very long until I picked up where I had
left off before going to that church, and I felt even further away from
God than I ever had before.

Finally, on June 10th 2004, my dear Wife confronted me with
paraphernalia and bank statements, and the long days of lying, stealing,
cheating, and self-destruction were over. I experienced this overwhelming
feeling of relief that I didn’t have to lie anymore.

You see, my Wife never knew. I kept my drug use a secret, an
extremely terrible secret. I thank God every day that she found
out.

I found recovery in Narcotic Anonymous. A spiritual, not religious,
program. After I surrendered to this program, the miracles began to
happen almost immediately. 2 days after I got clean I got a promotion at
work that allowed me to earn more money than I thought possible. 2 weeks
after I got clean, we found out that we were pregnant with our second
child. After I had worked my 6th step I got a call out of nowhere from my
Father after 19 years. I was able to forgive him, and find peace in
closure. 6 months to the day I got clean my family and I moved into a
brand new home. And there have been many more miracles in my life, big
and small. I know now that God doesn’t give me anything until I am
ready to handle it.

No one put a gun to my head and forced me to use drugs. I made that
choice all on my own. Lots of people have crumby childhoods and don’t
use drugs. I felt a sense of entitlement, like I was special, like I had
the right to commit suicide on the time payment plan. I hated myself, and
had a distorted view of the world. I’ve described my state during
active addiction like a hole, a hole in my soul that I was trying to
fill. Whether it was with drugs, sex, rock and roll, cheeseburgers, self-
pity, or video games, I was trying to fill that hole. It wasn’t until I
developed a relationship with God that I felt that hole fill. It filled
with God’s love.

Then, one day recently, I met the Mikels family. Jeff Mikels told me
a little about his vision for a new church in Lafayette, Indiana. I
became curious enough to check out his web site. I liked what I read. I
felt God’s hand guiding me toward being a part of this new church. I
prayed and meditated about it, and began to feel a call to service. I
would like to be able to counsel the still suffering addict through a
Christian based 12-step program. I called Jeff and told him a little
about what I felt called to do. Jeff encouraged me to write my story so
that he could post it on his web site. If I only help 1 person by sharing
this story, then it was what God intended.

Thank you for letting me share.

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God’s Promises

Front Page Spiritual Health

I’d like to make this an ongoing post that I add to regularly. If you
want to add a verse of promise, post it as a comment, and I’ll add it to
the main entry.

God promises blessings to those who fear him.

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who
fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge
in you. In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues
of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues. –
Psalm
31:19-20

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to
prosper you and not to harm you , plans to give you hope and a future –
Jeremiah
29:11

God promises strength

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your
God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my
righteous right hand. –
Isaiah
40:10

God promises confidence

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with
shame. –
Psalm
34:5

God promises deliverance

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he
delivers them. –
Psalm
34:7

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive
to their cry; –
Psalm
34:15

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are
crushed in spirit. –
Psalm
34:18

God promises personal awareness of him

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes
refuge in him. –
Psalm
34:8

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Wisdom for selecting a home

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

It turns out that one of the men from the Pondside group is actually the
President / CEO of Lafayette Savings Bank! It’s amazing how God works
things out. I gave him a call, he had someone call me and in about 30
minutes this morning, Jen and I were “easily” approved for at least a
$180,000 loan.

This raises the question now of where we should live and what home we
should build/buy. The reason this is a big question is that in Lafayette,
homes are really inexpensive, and we could get a home of over 3000 square
feet with a loan of under $200,000!

So, I’m asking you to pray with us and also to comment on my site here
with your suggestions / opinions about this.

Jen and I are praying about a few key homes that we could build for a
reasonable amount:

The
Leesburg

  • $120,000
  • 2037 square feet.

'Leesburg

The
Coolidge

  • 1618 square feet
  • $90,000

Elevation

[]

First Floor

[]

Second Floor

[]

The
Taft

  • 1737 square feet
  • $105,000

Elevation

[]

First Floor

[]

Second Floor

[]

The
Clemson

  • 2582 square feet
  • $120,000

Elevation

[]

English Cottage Elevation

[]

Floor Plan

[]

The
Townsend

  • 2771 square feet
  • $130,000

Elevation

[]

Craftsman Elevation

[]

English Manor Elevation

[]

Floor Plan

[]

[The Auburn]

  • 3183 square feet
  • $135,000

Elevation

[]

Farmhouse Elevation

[]

Southern Classical Elevation

[]

Floor Plan

[]

Our Dilemma

Here’s our dilemma. The Auburn house would be absolutely wonderful both
for our family and for the sake of the new church ministry. There is a
dedicated home office space downstairs by the door, but there is a huge
area upstairs for the kids to play in while the adults are talking or
having a meeting downstairs. However, the house is really big, and Jen
and I are concerned that we might seem to be pretentious by having such a
large house while living off the support of others-who likely have
smaller homes for themselves.

The Others

The Townsend and Clemson houses are really just toned down versions of
the Auburn house. We would enjoy them too, but they both skip the office
(we still aren’t sure we need that), and the Clemson has one less
bedroom.

The Taft and Coolidge houses are both the functional kind of house.
Everything we really need is in these two houses. Jen and I both grew up
in homes without much more than what these two houses have.

And regarding the Leesburg, I just think it looks really good. It’s a
ranch style home (one story), is economical, but we haven’t seen any
floor plans yet.

None of these homes have basements, but one could be added for only
$30,000!

So.

So Jen and I are trying to figure out whether we need to stretch
ourselves a little bit more financially so that we can get a “dream
house” that would be great for both family and for ministry (core group
meetings and larger Bible studies) with the potential downside of people
thinking negatively about us. We are especially concerned about some of
our supporters resenting our apparent affluence.

Or whether we should grab on to one of the more economical and functional
houses, save ourselves some potential concern over money, and avoid the
appearance of materialism to those we are trying to reach.

Pray and Comment.

Please pray for our wisdom in this decision, and please comment or email
me to let us know what you think.

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Jen and I know where we want to live

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

I want to thank all of you for praying for Jen and me during our trip
this last weekend to Lafayette. We had a really fun time in many
different ways.

Quick Notes

  • We were able to stay with Jen’s cousin and her family. They are so
    gracious and generous each time we visit. Praise God for Mark and
    Michelle Withers.

  • We were able to meet a group of families who have been passionate
    about a new church in Lafayette for almost a year. Praise God for our
    meeting with the “Pondside” couples.

  • We were also able to meet a family that has recently moved from
    California and was part of a BGC church plant out there. They are really
    excited about being on the ground floor of a new church, and the kids
    were even giving me suggestions on what the name of the new church should
    be.

  • Jen and I found the place where we want to live. We want to move to
    an area called “The Commons.”

Prayer Requests

Here are the two biggest things Jen and I are praying about right now.
Please join us in prayer for these things.

Pray for God’s guidance for us and the “Pondside”
couples.

We had the chance to meet with three families that have joined together
to start a new church in Lafayette to intentionally reach people with the
good news of Jesus. They have been meeting together for a while now and
have adopted the temporary name of “Pondside.” They really seem like
great people, and if they choose to partner with us, it would likely be
an incredible combination.

Pray for us to get a home in “The Commons.”

In driving through the different areas of Lafayette this weekend, Jen and
I really fell in love with a neighborhood called “The Commons” that would
be not only a great place for our family but also a wonderful
launching-point for the new church. Lots in “The Commons” are going
quickly at about $40,000 and homes that would work for us are between
$130,000 and $160,000.

We really need to get loan approval first before we can make a decision,
but if we can make a decision next month, our home could be ready by
early Spring. Buying an existing home is also an option, but most
existing homes are more expensive than new construction right
now.

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CECL Session #5 Day 3

Front Page Leadership My Spiritual Life

Basic elements of a leadership development program

Danny Wallen finished up his sessions yesterday by giving us a couple of different models for developing leaders. I’ll just quote them here:

The Two Track Analogy

There are four parts of leadership development that work together like the components of a train track.

  • Spiritual Formation (experiencing God and becoming Christlike) is the gravel under the train tracks.
  • Input (gaining knowledge, developing values, and learning skills) is one of the rails. One way to do this is by going through a book together.
  • Experience (apply what you are learning through activities) is another one of the rails.
  • Dynamic Reflection (process it all with mentors and peers, accountability and evaluation) is like the railroad ties holding everything together.

Mentoring with the “Constellation” Model

I have no idea why this is called the constellation model, but it basically describes the different kind of mentoring relationships that are possible. I was also unsure about whether we were supposed to encourage ourselves and others to have a balance of these mentoring relationships or not.

  • Upward—those who are mentoring me “from above” and have been where I am.
  • Downward—those I’m mentoring who are either direct reports or less experienced than I.
  • Inside—those peers who are coworkers or somehow within the same circle as me who serve as peer mentors.
  • Outside—those who are peers but are outside my current situation and can offer greater objectivity.

3 Formations Model

This model basically emphasizes the different stages of ministry that people go through as they age and/or mature. Mentoring should be appropriate to the particular stage of each person.

  • Spiritual Formation is the activity that forms the basis of godly character and inner life in the minister. This usually needs to be the focus for people up to their mid 30s.
  • Ministerial Formation is the emphasis on developing leadership skills, experience, and gifts. This is usually the emphasis for people until their mid 50s. Some of the skills to emphasize are these:
    • Word Skills
    • Relational Skills
    • Organizational Skills
    • Group Skills
  • Strategic Formation is really the activity that emphasizes helping people achieve their full potential to reach a God-given destiny. This is sometimes called “convergence” and it usually applies to those in their mid 50s and on.

Just-in-time Training

One final model that Danny showed us was called “just-in-time” training which contrasts to the way we usually go about things. Usually, we do “just-in-case” training that assumes we can adequately prepare people for the experiences they are likely to face. Just-in-time training, however, emphasizes that we give people the specific kind of training that they will need for the specific task at hand.

  • Orient them to the task (talk about it).
  • Involve them in the task (have them do it).
  • Equip them for future tasks by reflecting together.

According to this model, the real teaching and learning take place in the third step which is AFTER the task has taken place.

Creating a Leadership Development Strategy

I was so glad that Danny finally got to this point. It’s one thing to talk about what needs to go into leadership development, but there are so many good models, and I never know what path to follow or if I should be the maverick and blaze my own trail. He gave us six final key points regarding the development of a unique development strategy.

These development strategies might be an overall development strategy, but the idea is to have a specific strategy for each specific type of leader you plan to develop.

  • What do you really want to accomplish? Write out your goal and vision, and be sure to balance task and relationship.
  • How can you instigate a cyclical process? Particularly think about ways to integrate the regular processes of public ministry together with the processes of private ministry (people development).
  • Hammer out your general ideas with specific steps.
  • Get started—select emerging leaders based on character not giftedness.
  • Remember the WIFM principle (What’s in it for me?) and answer it for both you and the leaders you will be developing.
  • Develop leaders as God has developed you—with patience, faithfulness, grace and truth.

Other new things I learned.

I also have to just mentioned one other new thing I learned. Apparently, before the machines were developed to flip donuts in their grease, it was done by hand in a process called “diddling donuts.” Our peer group leader, Larry Faus used to be quite skilled at the process and spent some time tonight telling us about his ability to use a diddling stick to diddle those donuts. You cannot imagine the amount of laughter this generated in our peer group. It has been about a year since I have laughed as hard as I did then.

My Action Steps

  • I will continue to flesh out what my leadership development strategy needs to be for the new church.
  • I will decide on a leadership development “exit strategy” for my transition out of NWBC.
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Fasting Report

Front Page My Spiritual Life

Well, my time fasting from the computer and TV went well yesterday. There was a point in the day when I was really bored, so I turned to prayer—almost fell asleep once, but it was good.

Perhaps the coolest part about the day was being able to explain to my son why I couldn’t play a video game with him. I don’t think he really understood it, but I like knowing that he is growing up in a home where he will learn about how to put God first.

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Prayer Update

Lafayette Prayer Requests

Hello,

All of you know at this point that we are on our way to Lafayette, IN in the near future and hopefully most of you have received a full prayer update in your regular mail box at home—if not please respond to this and let me know and I’ll make sure you get one soon!! We have been praying for each of you on a regular basis too and are excited to hear about what has been happening in each of your lives.

We have just a few exciting updates since our last regular letter that I thought you’d like to know about.

  1. We still have a long way to go in raising our support, but God (and many of our friends and family) have been so very generous already. It’s been wonderful!! Pray for God to continue to bless this.

  2. We and Northwest Baptist (where Jeff currently pastors) have decided that we will move in January, although everyone is graciously allowing for some flexibility there. We’d like to have at least 80% of our support raised by then. Pray for the necessary support and all the logistics with a move. We aren’t sure if we will go to an apartment or straight to a house when we get there so there is much to figure out regarding that. We are excited to have a date!

  3. We have 3 churches that we will be presenting our Lafayette church planting proposal to in October, Northwest Baptist (October 2) and two other Chicago churches (October 9 and 30). Pray that it is received well and that God would bless us with serious prayer support, financial support, and even some great Lafayette contacts.

  4. Jeff spoke with a team leader of a small group in Lafayette just last night. This small group is looking for a pastor to plant a church in the area. They have about 4 couples attending the group and a list of about 40-60 people who are “ready to go” when they have a pastor. We, and they, need much prayer to determine if this is a good match or not. Jeff had a good conversation with them last night and we may meet in person the weekend of September 25. This is a really exciting possibility, but we need much wisdom about moving forward with it or not.

  5. We hope to travel to Lafayette from Thursday, September 22 to Sunday the 25th, to see the area, look into housing and meet in person with a few contacts. Pray for safety, great meetings, that we see and hear all we need to see with both people and housing, and that we make a few new contacts in the process.

Thanks so much for praying!!

Jen

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September’s Tuesday Fast

Front Page My Spiritual Life Prayer Requests

For the past two months, I have been taking the first Tuesday as a day for fasting and prayer. I’ve tried to do it with food and have gotten so distracted that I’ve messed up both times.

This month (tomorrow) I’ll be fasting from computer / TV / radio use. If you think of me, pray for me that I’ll be strong through the day and use the freedom from media to really hear God’s voice.

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