Seth’s Blog: The lesson from two lemonade stands

Some time ago I read this article by Seth Godin,  “ The lesson from two lemonade stands“.  Go read it, then come back here.

For the church – what lemonade stand are we?

  • Are we passing out tracts and telling people the “bridge” story or are we loving people and walking with them to the bridge.?
  • Is it more important to us that people attend or that people encounter?
  • Are people an audience or are they participators?
  • Does tradition trump God’s leading?
  • Does playing it safe to protect what we have trump taking a risk in faith to go where God is?
  • Are we known more for what we take than what we give?
  • Or put another, way – for what we are against than what we are for?

I’ve purposely left the “in between” unfilled in this post.  Hopefully these questions get you thinking as much as they have me and I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments!  So, what lemonade stand is the church?

Something I’ve been struggling with

Is there ever a good time to lie?  If you ever want to spark an interesting conversation, this is the question to ask.  If I’m honest with you, it’s a question I struggle with and if you’re honest, I think its something you struggle with too.

I always thought the 10 commandments had a “Do not lie” somewhere in there and it does BUT it only says something about not bearing false witness against your neighbor.  In other words, “Don’t lie about something you witnessed your neighbor doing or not doing”.  Kind of narrowing the context in which you must not lie.  But then, lying is listed as one of the six things God HATES in Proverbs 6:16-18. If you lie, you are putting yourself in opposition to God. Ouch.

So I struggle.  I struggle because there are some times where its really easy to be a truth teller. There are other times where its not that difficult to recognize the temptation to lie and resist it.  But then there are the the times…

  • when my wife has come through a grueling day of looking after the kids, doing laundry, cleaning the house AND has supper ready when I come home.  It tastes awful.  She asks me, “Do you like it?” I’m tempted to say, “Delicious”
  • Someone asks me how I’m doing and although I feel cruddy and overextended I’m tempted to say “I’m fine”
  • Or how about all the “polite” things we’ve been trained to say, things like “I’ll/We’ll miss you” when in reality we can’t wait for them to go;  or “Sorry, I’m busy right now” when in reality you’ve got all the time in the world but just don’t want that person to know because you don’t want to help that person; or “I’m looking forward to meeting you” when the truth is you couldn’t care less if you meet them or not.
  • What about answering the question, “so what’s new?”, “uhh, nothing”
  • Oh and what about the message we leave on our answering machines, “Sorry I missed your call…”  Really?

Are there any other lies that you think could be added to that list?  If you were to count how many times you succumb to the temptation of one of these situations, how many times a day would you say you lie?  I’m afraid to count.

But then, acknowledging this is a struggle helps me realize that it’s something that matters to me.  It matters to me that I strive for honesty.  It matters to me, that I recognize the temptation to be less than honest.  It matters to me, that there are times where it would almost seem justifiable to tell one. little. white. lie.

It matters to me, because God matters to me.

And honesty matters to Him.

That’s why I’m grateful for His grace.

At the focal point of history…

I read an interesting article a couple weeks ago about a little known guy named Ron Wayne who is actually one of the founders of Apple Computers.   You can read the article for the details on his story but it was fascinating to read some of the comments from this guy who sold away his 10% Apple Stock back in 1976 for $800.  That same stock would be worth about $22 billion today.  Yeah, that’s what I thought, wow.  But notice what the guy has to say,

  • “Well, I’m one of the founders of Apple Computer”
  • “I’m living off my Social Security and I do a modest trade in collectors’ stamps and coins”
  • “What can I say? You make a decision based on your understanding of the circumstances, and you live with it”
  • “We did get fairly chummy, had lunch together, dinner together and had conversations,” (about his relationship with Steve Jobs back then).
  • “What Jobs had in mind was that he and Woz [as Wozniak is sometimes called] should each have 45 percent and I would have 10 percent as mediator in any dispute that would come up,”
  • In talking about the growth of the company and the risks Steve and Woz were taking, “I could see myself getting into this situation again, and I was really getting too old for that kind of thing,…” (Ron had been unsuccessful at a slot-machine manufacturing business around this time)
  • “The way these guys were going, they were going to bulldoze through anything to make this company succeed. But it was going to be very rough ride, and if I wasn’t careful, I was going to be the richest man in the cemetery.”
  • [I’m] “…enamored with money as anybody else.”
  • “But when you’re at a focal point of history, you don’t realize you’re at a focal point of history,”
  • “I never had a real use for computers,”

Some interesting statements from a guy who because of  decision missed on a huge payoff.  All in all it looks like he’s not dwelling on it too much (although I wonder how much of his gambling is driven by a sense of loss for what could have been). In hindsight, it’s always easy to say “If I only knew then what I know now…”  How often do you find yourself saying that statement?  That’s why the blurb spoken by Ron that I bolded above really stood out to me.  The big moments in life – the crucial junctures, the “focal moments in history” where a decision could have a huge impact are not always so obvious.

Too often people avoid risk because they are focusing only on what they might lose.  Maybe justifiably.  After all, Ron already had the experience of failing in business and didn’t want to experience it again.

People avoid risk because they want to protect themselves from loss.  The risk takers, those who jump, are those who have focused on what can be gained, not lost.  That’s not to say they don’t consider what might be lost.  But what convinces them to GO is the crazy idea that it might actually work, that something might happen, that change will result.  Previous failures don’t intimidate them, they just learn from them and take what they learned in the next venture.

Here’s the thing, we will never know that we were at the “focal point of history” until after the fact.  The question then is this.  Is it possible that that decision you are facing personally, that decision you are facing as a leader, or as a church or other organization is one of those HISTORY making moments?

Is quitting, or cashing out because of the potential loss going to cost you more than the potential gain?

(Anything else that you want to add after reading this article? Feel free to comment below!)

(Oh, and by the way the picture with this post is a representation of the story of the apostle Peter stepping out of his boat to walk on water to Jesus.  You can read the story in Matthew 14:22-33. For some reason its a biblical story that came to mind when I was writing this post – I wonder why….)

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – Thoughts and Review

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010

As promised here are some wrap-up thoughts (albeit I got this published a bit later than I originally intended!) on the 2010 PAOC General Conference that I had the privilege of attending this year.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity granted to me by my church family that made it possible for my wife and I to go – it was our first ever General Conference in the 14 years that I’ve been a PAOC Pastor.

Overall, there are really two “themes” that kind of impacted me the most in all the things I heard and experienced at this conference.  There was nothing really groundbreaking or life-changing for me but it was more of a reinforcement of the things I’ve learned in ministry and a reminder of the importance of them.

1. The importance of working together in relationship in the Kingdom

The message was loud and clear this conference – what we accomplish together is far greater than what we’d accomplish individually.  Whether that is on the denominational level (i.e. supporting national initiatives or missions internationally), or the local level (working with others in our cities) there was a renewed emphasis on keeping the relationship strong in everything we do.

Another aspect of this is recognizing that a large part of who we are is made up by the people that God has put into our life that we have cultivated relationships with.  There was a great reminder (especially by Gordon Franklin) to remember to thank those who invested into our lives.  I’ve had time to reflect on that and I would have to say five of the individuals that had the greatest impact on me in terms of how they intentionally invested in me as a person are:

  • My Mom:  She showed the power of believing in you as a person.  She never stopped believing in what was possible for my sister and I and demonstrated that by her willingness to take the time necessary to take us and get us wherever we needed to go in all the different things we were involved in growing up.  Mom always had this to say to my sister and I, “You CAN do it”.
  • My Dad:  My Dad instilled me the value of hard work and doing things right the first time.  I’ll always remember the times (now fondly but then I hated it) when Dad would make me do something over again because I didn’t give it my best and cut corners to get it over with.
  • My Grade 7 and 8 English Teacher Mrs. Mclean:  Under her tutelage I gained an even greater love for books and creative writing.  She challenged me and gave me freedom to think creatively, write and speak creatively.  I remember being able to choose my homework rather than having to stick to the curriculum because she believed I would do greater things with that freedom.  And I did.
  • My Youth Pastor, “Barry Risto”.  At a difficult time of my life, Barry was one of the first people to show me I had leadership potential and I attribute much of my being in full-time ministry to his encouraging words and Godly example.
  • My friend and mentor, Merv Brockwell: Merv was the second Senior Pastor I worked with and under him I grew incredibly as a leader.  He also imparted to me the confidence to eventually lead a church.  Further, without Merv’s influence in my life there was a time when I might have left full-time minsitry.

There are many others, friends, and people who God used in particular moments. To many to list here.  But those five I’ve listed above are the first that come to mind when I think of who has had the most impact in my life.

2. The importance of investing in and releasing the next generation.

As leaders it is always important to be thinking not only of who you are leading but also who you are releasing to lead.  This means that leaders need to be intentional about investing in the next generation.  As Wayne Cordeiro put it, “What cage are you tapping on?” – a very powerful image (follow link to get context).  This investment must be intentional and will require time to be of greatest effectiveness.

Ed Stetzer also reinforced this theme when he drove home the importance of the church equipping people for ministry.

Personally I was really challenged as a leader to think about who I am investing in, and who I am actively equipping to be a future leader.

The questions for you are, “Who has impacted you by virtue of your relationship to them?” and second, “Do you have someone from a generation after you that you are investing in?”

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – Ed Stetzer

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010

Sorry for the delay in making these posts folks.  Here’s my notes from the final session at the 2010 PAOC General Conference.  Ed Stetzer was the speaker and I was really looking forward to hearing him speak because I’ve been a reader of his blog for quite a while.  Sometime this week I’ll write the final post in this series where I’ll sum up my thoughts and observations from my experience at this years General Conference.  Remember the notes below may or may not be verbatim.

The title of Ed’s message was, “Mobilizing all God’s people on Mission” (1 Peter 4:10-11)

1. All have gifts…

  • Everyone should use it to serve others
  • we need to teach people that the gospel involves knowledge AND ACTION
  • church is more than a theatrical show it is a team sport
  • 1 Cor. 12:7 “7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
  • God gives gifts for the common good
  • we need to lead more differently so people can engage God’s mission more faithfully

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – Wayne Cordeiro (Mini-Plenary)

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010

I attended the breakout session with my lead pastor (Marshall Eizenga) to hear Wayne Cordeiro again.  Wayne expanded further on what he had talked about the previous evening in the general session.  Really. Good. Stuff.   Here are the notes I took:

Whose cage are you tapping and who is pacing you right now?

  • you will never have wholeness in a church with broken relationships.
  • if staff or volunteers come into your office and they don’t make your heart leap ask why!
  • make sure relationships are good and healthy.
  • if you don’t have healthy relationships no program will work because everyone will sabotage it.
  • if you are a repenting man you will be a healthy man
  • healthy churches still have problems but they deal with them quickly.
  • Luke 1 when you have healthy relationships the Holy Spirit can move. And He doesn’t need you!
  • healing requires health – if you tolerate brokenness forget about the healing!
  • God’s word says without knowledge my people perish.
  • We always want to make sure what we do is biblical

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – Gordon Franklin

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010

Here are the notes from the session with Gordon Franklin:

The text Romans 16:3-16, Philippians 1:3 (where Paul lists greetings to his peers)

  • For Paul this wasn’t just a list of names!
  • It is a mosaic of memories of people that changed Paul’s life, who impacted him.
  • We need to thank God for spiritual history before us.
  • When mailing “the list” Paul is exposing a foundational family in his life.

Personal application, who is your honour roll?

  • finish this “… I thank my God everytime I remember…”
  • Don’t just tell the people that they’re on your honour roll but also why they are there.

Remember that for this series I’m just posting the raw notes and then I’ll be posting a wrap up post with my reflection on all the messages I heard.  But for this post, do you have an “honour roll” in your life?  Who are some of the people who have had an impact in your life?  By the way, I’ve been reading this interesting series of posts on honour over on the LifeChurch.tv Swerve Blog, check it out! (each one of those links goes to a different post).

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – Wayne Cordeiro

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010
Dr. Wayne Cordeiro is senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii.  I was really looking forward to hearing his message – and I was not disappointed!   Remember,  for the first few posts in this series I’m just posting the raw notes – in the last post of this series I will summarize my thoughts on everything I heard/experienced at the General Conference this year. Here are the notes I took from that night.

  • “There is something about vibrant Christians when they are brand new.”
  • 1500 ministers are leaving ministry every month.  What is being to replace those who leave?
  • the whole story of the Old Testament is passing the baton of faith contextually from one generation to the next.
  • remember God has chosen people and placed them in the times where they live.
  • races (relay) are won or lost in the passing of the baton.
  • when you are passing the baton – for a season you need to run together.
  • It just takes a moment to pass the baton but it takes 5 to 7 years to pass the heart of that baton

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – Ivan Satyavrata

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010

Ivan Satatyavrata serves as the Senior Pastor of an Assembly of God church in  Kolkata (Calcutta), India.  Here are my notes from his message at the General Conference:

Christianity in general is more of a multicultural and global movement than ever before.

  • need for Christians all over the world to work TOGETHER.
  • John 17:18 (Jesus prayer)
  • John 20:21 (commission) – As the father sent Jesus, so he sends US!

“How of Missions”

  • it is the manner in which the Father sent the Son that determines the manner in which the church is sent by Jesus
  • it’s mission is governed by the manner of His (mission). (Newbigin, Missons in Christ’s way)
  • the importance of “as” in what Jesus said. (the father has sent me AS I send you)
  • missions is NOT about colonization.
  • missions must NOT be done alone!
  • missions is not marketing (corporatization)

What is Jesus way for missions?
John 14:21 (Jesus prayer) – one as you and I are one.

1. Intimacy

  • with God and with each other

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – George Wood

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010

This past week (May 10-13) I had the privilege of attending the PAOC General Conference in Edmonton, Alberta.  The theme of this years conference was “Rooted in Relationship”.  This series of posts contains my notes from the speakers I heard at the conference.  Many thanks to my church for making it possible for my wife and I to attend!

I’ve never heard a message on Leah before (see Genesis 29 for the introduction to Leah).  That was the subject of the message by the Assembly of God’s General Superintendent, George O. Wood.  Here are some of the statements he made that I thought were important enough to record (note that although I tried to record the words of Rev. Wood verbatim, there may be instances where I just got the spirit of what he was saying):

  • circumstances in Leah’s life were out of her control
  • Leah is the one who is recorded as putting her faith in the Lord. Notice Rachel stole her father’s household idols.
  • Notice that Genesis 49:31 tells us that Jacob wanted to be buried not with Rachel but with Leah!