Archive for January, 2010

The Distance Between You and God (Part 4)

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The past several posts have focused on how Christ-followers can overcome the relational distance created between us and God when we sin.  To illustrate, we’ve been looking at Psalm 51.  The first two things that stand out in the Psalm are that we need to admit that we have sinned and then put our trust in what God has done to overcome that relational distance.  There is one more thing we learn about this from Psalm 51.

This is probably the lesson I need most.  It seems to be the thing that most people leave out in the restoration process.


Throughout the Psalm David worships God.  In confession he honors God’s justice in judging sin.  In his request for restoration he honor’s God’s mercy in restoring him.  The Psalm reaches its crescendo in the second half of verse 14, “Then my tongue will shout for joy because of your deliverance.”  The Psalm closes in praise of God.

When Christ-followers sin, we create relational distance between ourselves and God.  We must acknowledge our sin in confession.  Then we can experience God’s work in restoring our relationship.  As we experience this restoration, the only appropriate response is to worship God.

How do you worship God when he restores you?

The Distance Between You and God (Part 3)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

We’ve been talking about what Christ-followers should do when they sin.  In the first post of the series we established that sin does not cause us to lose our relationship with God.  It creates relational distance between Him and us.  We’re looking at Psalm 51, King David’s prayer when he was caught in sin, to discover how to overcome that relational distance.  In the last post we observed that the first step is confession.

At this point we have to understand that we cannot overcome this relational distance on our own.  It literally takes an act of God.  The only way for us to span the distance that we’ve created in our sin is for God to restore us to the place we were.  The cool thing is that God is all about restoration.  The entire Bible is the story of human sin which creates relational distance between humanity and God and God’s work to restore that relationship.

Look at what David says in Psalm 51:7-14a:

7  Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.

8  Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven!
May the bones you crushed rejoice!

9  Hide your face from my sins!
Wipe away all my guilt!

10  Create for me a pure heart, O God!
Renew a resolute spirit within me!

11  Do not reject me!
Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me!

12  Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance!
Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!

13  Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways,
and sinners will turn to you.

14  Rescue me from the guilt of murder, O God, the God who delivers me! (NET)

When we first became Christ-followers, we trusted Jesus and his sacrifice to free us from sin and death and to restore our relationship with God.  This one time experience guarantees us salvation and eternity with Him.  But just as the disciples needed their feet washed to be clean the night of the last supper (John 13:1-17), we need to rest in God’s grace.  We need to trust that just as Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross saved us, his sacrifice restores our relationship with God.  It is not an act of will or obedience.  It is an act of faith; an act of trust; an act of love.

An then, we experience the closing of the distance that we created.

We experience the restoration of our relationship with God.

When have you experienced this kind of relational restoration?

The Distance Between You and God (Part 2)

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

If you missed Tuesday’s post, make sure to read it.  It sets the foundation for the next several posts in the series.

We’re talking about what it takes for a Christ-follower to overcome the relational distance created between us and God when we sin, by looking at Psalm 51.  As we look at the first six verses we learn the first step to restore our relationship with God.  Confession.  The first step to overcoming that relational distance created by sin is to admit our sin.

That’s harder than it first sounds though.  There are several aspects to that admission.  Confession isn’t merely a mumbled I’m sorry for getting caught.  That’s often how we confess to each other, is it not?  Confession is more than that.  First, we must acknowledge that what we’ve done is truly wrong.  Until we acknowledge that our sin is sin, we will never restore our relationship with God.   Many times we don’t believe our sin is truly sin.  We are trapped by our culture’s “everything’s OK” mentality.  Everything is not OK.  Sin is still sin and sin keeps us from experiencing the relationship with God for which He created us.

Second, we must repent.  The word repent means to turn away.  We must consciously turn away from our sin.  Often, we get trapped in our sin and though we long to be closer to God we refuse to turn away from our sin.  We cannot restore our relationship with God unless we repent.  Our relationship with God has to be more important to us than our sin.  There’s a lot that goes in to repentance that we can talk about another time.  For the sake of this step in restoring our relationship with God, repentance is the inner conviction to leave that sin and lean on God.

That leaning on God will lead us to our next post.

Until then, have you ever seen or experienced confession restoring a relationship?

The Distance Between You and God

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to share one of my theological presuppositions.  I believe that the moment a person trusts Christ all their sins are forgiven, even the ones they haven’t committed yet.  I know not everyone agrees with that statement.  If you’d like to discuss it further feel free to comment below, but that is the presupposition that this series of posts will be built upon.

Often I have been asked if that is true, what happens when Christ-followers sin?  There are two things that do not happen.  (1) They are not rejected by God.  (2) They do not lose their place in heaven.  Therefore, when Christ-followers sin they have not lost the relationship with God that they received when they trusted Christ.

They’ve disappointed God and created relational distance between themselves and God.  You’ve experienced this in relationships with people.  Think of a time when you disappointed or hurt someone close to you, your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents, your children, or maybe just a close friend.  Think back to how you felt at that time.  Remember the pain and discomfort you experienced.  That is relational distance.  That is what happens to Christ-followers when they sin.

For some of you, that relational distance was never overcome.  For some of you, that relationship ended and the pain is still there.  I want you to know, I am truly sorry about that.  I’m sorry for the loss and the pain that you’ve experienced.  Yet, I also want you to know that will never happen with God.  Jesus has promised to never leave you (Matthew 28:20).  Jesus has promised that no one will ever pull you out of God’s hand (John 10:28-29).

In the next several posts we’re going to talk about what to do to overcome that experience of relational distance with God.  We’re going to look at Psalm 51.  It is a prayer that King David of Israel prayed after he had sinned by sleeping with another man’s wife, getting her pregnant and then killing the man to cover up what he’d done.  If you haven’t read Psalm 51 in a while check it out on YouVersion.  And if you want to read the story about David it’s in 2 Samuel 10 – 11.

Before we get into what Scripture says, however, what are the steps that you use when trying to restore broken relationships?

To Hire or Not To Hire (Part 3)

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

In this series we’ve been discussing when to hire and when to use volunteers to fulfill roles in the church.  I’ve argued the decision should be strategic not pragmatic.  I’ve proposed that the guiding principle should be that staff positions equip the church for the ministry and the church does the ministry.  All roles should, therefore, default to volunteers rather than staff.   Then I said there are two exceptions to this.  In my last post I said that volunteers should not be expected to fulfill role that require an unreasonable amount on training or experience.

The second question that needs to be asked when making these decisions is, “Are the expectations of this position unreasonable to expect from a volunteer?”  Does this role require the individual to do things or spend time that would be unreasonable for a volunteer?  My best example of this is a role I filled when I helped launch a satellite campus for NorthRidge Church in MI.  One of the tasks was loading a trailer at the original campus on Friday afternoons and driving it to the satellite location Sunday mornings before the rest of the ministry teams arrived.  This required about an hour of work on Friday afternoons hitching and loading the trailer.  Sunday mornings I had to arrive at the original campus at 5a and drive the trailer to the satellite location and have it in place by 5:30a and drive the trailer back to the original campus Sunday afternoons.  There were two reasons that I felt this should be a staff responsibility.  (1) It was really early in the morning.  (2) The vision of the satellite was to create opportunities in that community for people to serve.  The volunteers that were a part of that ministry all lived in that community.  For a volunteer to pick the trailer up they would have had to drive 20 – 30 minutes from their house to pick up the trailer and then drive it to the satellite location which was actually closer to their home.  I believe those expectations were unreasonable to expect from a volunteer.

What do you think?  What tasks are unreasonable to expect a volunteer to do?

To Hire or Not To Hire (Part 2)

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

In the previous post we talked about the questions churches should ask when deciding whether a position should be paid staff or volunteer. The overarching principle I proposed is that the staff should be responsible for equipping the church for ministry. If we follow that perspective then our default decision should be to allow volunteers to serve in every position.

There are two situations in which paid staff should be put in place rather than volunteers. The first is in positions that require special skills or education that are unreasonable to expect from a volunteer. The primary example of this would be the primary pastor of the church. Whether you call that individual the Senior Pastor, Lead Pastor, Teaching Pastor, or other name the role is the same. The person filling that role needs to have both the theological training and leadership training necessary to lead the church. (Yes, I know there are biblical reasons for having a paid Pastor but that’s for a different post.) Another example would be someone overseeing the technical arts in a church with a high production level. Not everyone serving in the technical arts should be paid staff, but someone needs the skill to train and oversee this area of ministry that requires a very specific skill set. In a church with a large auditorium or sanctuary that has a high production level the leader of this ministry should be paid staff with the requisite education and experience.

There are other positions in the church that should be paid staff as well but remember this should be the exception rather than the rule. What other positions can you think of that require paid staff because of the lever of education and experience necessary to fulfill the role?

Moving Day!

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Welcome to!  Thank you for visiting.  My passion is to help people take the next steps in their spiritual journey and help them knock down the walls that keep them from growing closer to God.

This website is an extension of that mission.  Here you will find this blog, some resources, and a way to contact me.  I hope that this blog and these resources encourage and challenge you on your spiritual journey.  I talk about a lot of different things but my focus is on spiritual growth and leadership in the Christian community.  Please join the conversation.  Together we can help each other grow spiritually be a part of what God’s doing.

I look forward to our future conversations.

Sneak Peak

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Welcome to This will be the official home of my blog and resources that I will make available. Please take a look around and let me know what you think. Be patient, however, we’re just moving in and all our stuff isn’t quite put away yet.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To Hire or not To Hire

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

In the past 13 years, I’ve had the privilege of serving in both volunteer and staff leadership positions in churches and parachurch organizations. It’s interesting to me how haphazard many churches are with regards to identifying which jobs are volunteer positions and which jobs are staff positions.

The problem seems to be that the decisions are driven by pragmatism rather than vision. Pragmatism works well for short-term decisions. The decision to fill a position with staff or volunteers is a strategic decision that has far reaching consequences. Leadership teams, therefore, need to have a firm vision of the difference between staff roles and volunteer roles in the structure of the church.
It is important to remember that it is not the staff’s responsibility to do the ministry of the church. It is the whole church’s responsibility to do the ministry of the church. The staff is responsible to equip the church for ministry.

When making staffing decisions the questions that are often asked are:
(1) Can we afford to hire this position? (Do we have the money?)
(2) Can we afford no to hire this position? (Do we trust a volunteer to do it?)

These are pragmatic questions. They do not focus on vision. Better questions to ask are:
(1) Does this position require special skills that it is unreasonable to expect a volunteer to have?
(2) Are the expectations of this position unreasonable to expect from a volunteer?

I’ll unpack these questions in future posts and explain why I think they fit the vision/strategy category rather than being merely pragmatic. I’d love to hear from you though. What questions do you think should be asked in determining whether a position is a staff or volunteer position?

Sometimes I Disappoint Me

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

I disappointed myself in Small Group the other night. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that I’m probably not the only one that does this.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I was laid off in early November. The lay off came up in conversation in Small Group. I shared some of my feelings and frustrations regarding being laid off. We had a great conversation.

After our group had left for the evening and my daughter was in bed, my wife and I were sitting on the couch talking. It occurred to me that I had shared more about my thoughts and feelings in Small group than I had one-on-one with my wife. It wasn’t because my wife isn’t a safe person to talk to. She is the safest person in my life. It wasn’t because she isn’t supportive. She’s amazingly supportive. It was because I presumed she already knew.

My wife is the closest person in the world to me. I just presumed that she knew what I was going through but I never communicated it to her. By not communicating my thoughts and feelings to her, I deprived us of emotional intimacy, because she didn’t know how I was feeling.

Now, let me say this clearly, there is nothing wrong with being open and vulnerable in you Small Group. You should be and you will never experience the community for which the group was designed if you don’t. But, the first place to look for love and support should be your husband or wife. Don’t deny them the opportunity to be the husband or wife that God designed them to be. Don’t deny them the opportunity to love and care for you. Don’t deny yourself and your spouse the opportunity to experience emotional intimacy.

What do you do to maintain emotional intimacy in your marriage?