Permission

Sometimes we just need to hear someone else say it out loud: “You’re not crazy.” “You’re on the right track.” “You can do that.” “You can do this.” I call it giving leaders permission. One of the greatest values of having a mentor or coach in our lives, is having a safe place where we can process through the decisions we are wrestling with, and hear someone else tell us we’re not crazy for thinking what we’re thinking! We need permission! Sometimes the key that unlocks our future is having someone give us permission to do what we feel deep down we need to do.

So today, I thought I would send out permission far and wide. If you’re reading this post, I’m praying God will use me to give you permission!

You have permission to be still.

You have permission to take a chill pill. You have permission to rest. Take a day off. Take a week off. You have permission to plan your Summer Vacation now. You have permission to think long term and finishing well. This is not a 40-yard dash. It’s an Ultra-Marathon! I give you permission to be still!

You have permission…

Continue Reading

Church communications is both art and science. You can use spreadsheets, but you also need finesse.

You can print bulletins, but few people will read them. You can use social media but few people will see the updates. You can send email but a majority won’t see it in their inboxes. You can even print and snail mail a newsletter, but why in the world would you?

Church communications leaders and church staff members hear it all the time… I didn’t know that was happening.

I’ve been a pastor for twenty years and I’ve been designing church websites for fifteen years. I’ve worked in church communications for over a decade and in the last five years, I’ve watched our church plant grow from two families to five hundred or so regular attenders.

We still struggle with all of the same questions every church leader has about keeping people informed.

  • What gets announced from the stage?
  • What gets put in the bulletin?
  • What gets posted on social media?
  • What gets passed along via email?
  • Who is in charge of all of that?

Signal-to-Noise

The reason this matters so much is that people are constantly being bombarded with noise. From work,…

Continue Reading

Memorial

Dr. Paul Powell was a major leader in the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptist Convention. As a young pastor, his leadership in the Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, as well as his writings, served as an influence in my early pastoral ministry. Sadly, on December 28, 2016, Dr. Powell passed away at 83 years of age in Tyler.

I only had the privilege to meet Dr. Powell a couple of times, but I will never forget reading in one of his books about conducting and preaching someone’s memorial service. Although exceptions occur, I have practiced these three principles to this day. I must admit that while I remember the three principles from many years ago, I did not remember what Dr. Powell said about each one. I have, however, learned a lot about each of the principles over the years. It is amazing that what I learned in these principles in my very early twenties, I am still sharing with other pastors. These three basic principles are from the overflow of pastor and leader, Paul Powell.

1. Be Biblical

A sermon for any person’s memorial service needs to be…

Continue Reading

Hello, my name is Lillian, and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ that struggles with depression and PTSD.

Did you catch that? I identify first as a believer in Jesus Christ, not my struggles or addictions. As a young adult, my difficult journey became my identity.

I believed and identified with what the world called me. Trash, a waste of space, a kid with an attitude, a problem child, not good enough, a bully, a teen up to no good. My old list is extensive and painful.

As I grew into a young teen, depression and PTSD crept into my life. I needed help; I needed a way to unpack my struggles. I had nowhere to go. As a young girl, everyone around me had levels of brokenness I couldn’t wrap my little head around. So, I developed habits for what I thought would create normalcy.

Amid my suffering, I had the tendency to become selfish and make it all about me. As I’ve done in the past, while in the midst of the destructive trials I see nothing but that. It consumed me with a crippling invisible force.

As I grew older, I knew I needed…

Continue Reading

Family Hiking

“It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the LORD, you are safe.” Proverbs 29:25 GNT

A ‘front’ by its definition can “cause the weather to change dramatically because it occurs along the boundary between two air masses with different densities and temperatures.”

I was thinking about the past false ‘fronts’ that I put up around people who did much of the same in my life. Even as a teenager, I could be whatever you wanted me to be as long as it made you and others happy.

People pleasing began to develop in my life as I tried to be all things to all people.  It caused nothing but storms in my life – even as I grew into an adult.  In my mind, I was the one trying to hold everything together. I was trying to keep the family at peace even though I was never specifically asked to do so.

Much like thunderstorms, my unhealthy ‘fronts’ and broken boundaries were all about making others happy at my expense. This caused my outlook on life to change dramatically, leaving me hopeless and unsatisfied with who I…

Continue Reading

World

You’ll either be a worldly Christian or a world-class Christian.

“Jesus said to his followers, ‘Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone’” (Mark 16:15 NCV).

“Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind” (Psalm 67:2 TLB).

Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They’re saved but self-centered. They love to attend concerts and enrichment seminars, but you’d never find them at a mission conference, because they aren’t interested.

Their prayers focus on their own needs, blessings, and happiness. It’s a “me-first” faith: How can God make my life more comfortable? They want to use God for their purposes instead of being used for his purposes.

By contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and were made for a mission. They’re eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God.

World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet. Their joy, confidence, and enthusiasm are contagious because they know they’re making a difference. They wake up each morning expecting God to work through them in fresh ways.

Which type of Christian do you want to be?

God invites…

Continue Reading

Parent and Child

One of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them that God loves them unconditionally.

It’s extremely important that we teach our kids that they are loved, not because they earned our love or are good enough to be loved, but that they’re loved because God put them into our families to be loved.

This is hard for many of us because we have had a hard time receiving God’s unconditional love ourselves. God wants us to spend some time with him, letting him love us, and in turn giving that unconditional love to our kids.

How can we show God’s unconditional love to our families? Here are two practical ways:

1. Forgive your kids as God forgives you.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ” (NCV).

I love that God forgives me, but I’m not always ready to give that same kind of forgiveness to other people. Parenting requires massive doses of forgiveness. You’re in a position all the time to forgive your kids for things that they do.

2. Never give up on your kids.

We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:7a,…

Continue Reading

Saddleback Church Night of Worship

“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13a NIV).

Here we are in the middle of another week. The last weekend is behind us and we have our sights set on the plan for the week ahead. There are many meetings and countless cups of coffee between now and our next weekend service. Whatever ministry burdens you are carrying or victories you are celebrating, one thing is for sure: God sees the work you are doing, and we see the work you are doing, and it matters. So let’s jump into the rest of this week fully empowered and encouraged.

To all the audio engineers — we act like we know what we want in our in-ear monitors, but the truth is we don’t know. Thanks for putting up with us, for making us sound better than we ever thought we could, and mostly, for making sure the Good News of Jesus Christ is…

Continue Reading

Group

It is a pleasant fiction to think that a small group ministry can soar in a church by delegating all of the responsibility to an associate pastor. A similar line of reasoning would contend that the lead pastor doesn’t need to worship because they have hired a worship leader to do that. Of course, nobody would make a statement like that about worship, but often we send a similar message about discipleship when lead pastors don’t position themselves as the small group champions.

If a culture of disciple-making groups is going to take root in a church, it’s critical for the lead pastor to champion the cause.

There are many factors to support this paradigm, but I’d briefly like to share three realities for lead pastors and discipleship . . .

1. Jesus was the Groups Champion of the New Testament Church

Jesus was the greatest small group leader ever. He took 12 people and launched the fastest-growing, most…

Continue Reading

Communication

Most organizational communication problems are really something else.

Here are a few examples:

My friend Kaleigh is a freelance copywriter. Business owners routinely hire her to write their About Us webpages and their Core Values. She often has to make the content up from scratch . . .

. . . because they need her to tell them who they should be since they don’t know.

I once attended a church and regularly heard the leaders complain that people wouldn’t sign up for small groups. Every Sunday they announced Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies and special classes and events for young adults. People signed up for those things . . .

. . . because that’s what sounded important and fun.

When I worked in corporate PR, I had a well-known technology company on retainer. About once a month, my team and I were asked to write a press release and pitch journalists…

Continue Reading

Teresa’s Club was a staple along Highway 80 for 25 years until the owner, Teresa Fears, met Jesus Christ through friendships with members of Mobberly Baptist Church.

Afterward, it was Fears’ idea to close down her adult club in Longview, Texas.

The Mobberly “church ladies,” as Teresa calls them, have changed her life. And she has changed their lives in sharing the Gospel.

Mobberly’s involvement with Fears began more than three years ago when worship team member Laney Wootten began praying about the club.

“The Lord made it clear that I was not just to pray but to do something,” Wootten said. She searched the club’s Facebook page and was surprised that the owner was a woman with a passion for helping special needs children.

Fears accepted Wootten’s friend request and the two began messaging on Facebook. Wooten, the parent of an autistic son, found common ground with Fears, who regularly volunteered at the Truman W. Smith Children’s Care Center for medically fragile children…

Continue Reading

Mountain View

William Rainey once said, “Why didn’t somebody ever tell me that I could become a Christian and work on all my doubt afterward?” The fact is, every little step you take toward Christ moves you further away from the four “D”s — doubt, discouragement, depression, and despair.

We’re all moving, but sometimes we move slowly. Are you struggling this Easter with one of these “D” issues?

Are you doubting God’s love because you’re in a crisis? “God! I’ve just found out I have a terminal illness! Don’t you love me?”

Are you discouraged because you don’t think he cares for you? “God! Don’t you see the trouble I’m in? Don’t you care?”

Are you depressed because life has not turned out the way you thought it would? “God! My spouse is leaving me! Can’t you stop this from happening?”

Are you despairing because you don’t think he’s forgiven you for your latest sin? “God! I still feel guilty. Haven’t you forgiven me?”

The Bible makes this statement in 1 John 5:13: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (NASB).

There’s…

Continue Reading