moms-day

 

It’s Saturday night. Tomorrow looks to be beautiful. You’ve 17 projects around the house you’d love to get to, and you’re tired. AnchorPoint on Facebook and YouTube has been working lately, so why not sleep in, then curl up with a cup of hot coffee, watch the service, and get an early start on some projects, before taking your Sunday nap?

Because you’ll be missing it.

 

When you’re not able to be here, you’re missing something. You can watch March Madness on TV, but it’s different when you’re there. Here are my five reasons to “be there” at AnchorPoint, if possible, this Sunday.

1: Mary of Bethany

Mary of Bethany is a gal from the Bible who knew Jesus--yet she might have skipped church on Mother's Day. She had money, but no living parents, no husband, and no kids.

It would have been a hard day for her to attend.

This week starts a new series called "Dark Horses," people from the Bible who you would not expect to be used by God. They just aren't people you would bet on.

But God bet on Mary.

So if you are a mom, or if you aren't, this week is for you.

2: Baptisms – At 10:15

There is nothing quite like watching new believers get baptized. And getting wet. And clapping. And encouraging, and being loud, shouting AMEN, or WAY TO GO, or ABOUT TIME! There’s a reason we believe in full “get-under-the-water-and-come-back-up” baptism. We believe God set it up this way because He wanted a visual picture of being “All In” for Him, the old life gone, a new life begun. Here are some snippets of some of the testimonies you will hear…

  • Upon much reflection and self-examination these past three years … and worshipping at Anchor Point … I have come to realize it's time to go all in with my faith and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
  • I want to profess my faith. Christ as my savior, and YHWH as my Heavenly Father
  • My children have accepted the Lord as their savior, and I’ve watched them blossom … I see great potential in my children to do amazing things for Christ and bring people to Jesus.
  • I want to start a new life with God in me. I believe God died for my sins and I know he loves me. I have accepted him in my heart and know he will take care of me.
  • The gospel (good news) in the real Bible just amazed me. I acknowledge him as my lord and savior, and I have accepted him in my heart.

These folks need your encouragement in person if possible. And we need the joy of their new salvation impacting our lives. 

3: Log off and Know That I Am God

Tish Harrison Warren wrote in Christianity Today this month about our need to “re-engage the sacredness, the weirdness, the astonishing wonder of God.” She went on to say

Social media is here to stay. Nonetheless, we have to learn to retreat—not away from discussions of faith but into those older, slower forms of spiritual conversation with real people and with long books. We have to take up practices of solitude fasting, gathered worship and the sacraments—those embodied habits that resist being subsumed by technology.

AnchorPoint is here to point us to The Anchor (Hebrews 6:19). When we collectively fix our eyes on Jesus the rest of our lives and views shrink down to the proper insignificance (Hebrews 12:2). Gathered worship can bring all of us back together united not around politics or economics, end times or vaccines, but united around the true truth of the gospel. I don’t think that when we meet Jesus, we will regret one dollar given in His name, or one chore we left undone in order to join others in worship.

4: Make the Queen Happy

What mom doesn’t like pictures? Family pictures will start sometime before the 9am service. Dress up. Look good. Just don’t expect me to do the same.

5: Food

I hear there will be food. Or snacks. I’m rooting for chocolate. Am I bribing you to come to church?

Maybe.

Psalms 22:3 says, “God inhabits the praises of His people.” I hope you can be in His presence, with us, this Sunday. If not, may He inhabit your praises as you sing and worship with us at home. OH--and the baptisms should be live at 10:15 also.

Dan

4 Ways to Attend Church

  1. In person inside with masks or outside (please bring a chair) – also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
    1. 9am preaching is inside, masks required. 10:30 preaching is outside, weather permitting
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On Faithlifetv Livestream
  4. On YouTube Livestream

 

 

website2

 

 

Ten years ago, JoLynn and I went on a cruise for our 30th anniversary. I learned some things about myself on that trip that when I was over the embarrassment, made it into an article for Christianity Today/Pastors (then called Leadership Journal). In the article I refer to Bill Hybels, Rob Bell, Max Lucado and Joshua Harris, all well-known mega-pastors to readers of the magazine at that time. Below is the article as it was printed.

 

PASTORAL ENVY

Dear God, Give Me A Mega-Ministry When I Burn Out

It isn’t fair.

Bill Hybels burnt out. He wrote, “The rate at which I was doing the work of God, was destroying the work of God in myself.” (my paraphrase) Bill realized this was unhealthy, sought help, reorganized his life, sold a few million books, and achieved, what looked to me, like Pastoral Nirvana. LUCKEEE.

Rob Bell had around 10,000 people coming to his church when he hit bottom. He wrote,

“In the middle of all this growth and chaos was me, super pastor. . . It’s one thing to be an intern with dreams about how the church should be; it’s another thing to be the thirty-year-old pastor of a massive church. . . People were asking me to write articles and books on how to grow a progressive young church, and I wasn’t even sure I was a Christian anymore. . . It was in that abyss that I broke and got help. (Velvet Elvis, PP. 103-105.)

There we go again - same song, second verse. Rob burnt-out, got help, reorganized his life, wrote a book about an Elvis painting, and his church rocked.

Joshua Harris was in demand as a speaker, writer, and pastor. He too wrote about hitting bottom, reorganizing his life, and attaining redemption. Kyle Idelman of, Not a Fan fame shares how he had to re-examine ministry in the midst of exponential growth. In the winter issue of Leadership Journal Bob Merritt talks about adding staff, and being courted for speaking engagements outside the church, while at the same time leading the preaching department at Bethel Theological Seminary before his meltdown.

It sounded like a plan to me.

So, after an average first pastorate, we moved from Canada to a church plant of 120 people in New Mexico. I was ready to become a workaholic, see our church grow, have a melt-down, repent of my selfishness, lead a seminary department, and write a best-seller entitled Dogs Playing Poker. Actually, I’ve never wanted a mega-ministry, but a growing, healthy ministry would be awesome.

I worked like crazy and burned out six years later. So far, so good--except we were still running 120 people and I wasn’t retiring on book sales. When the economy crashed, so did our budget. At the same time a home Bible study got sideways with the church and sucked out both people and energy. Every family that chose to leave caused me personal anguish. Every breakdown, from a video projector to a coffee pot, was a budget breaker. I tried harder.

I read more about marketing, went to leadership conferences, and debated getting the cool glasses/tattoo combination to look hip. I silently wondered if we could keep the church open, if I could continue to pay my mortgage. Worse yet, Hybels asked Bono to speak at his Leadership conference for a second time, without asking me once. Not that I’m bitter.

I suppose it’s foolish to be jealous of these guys. Hybels is stuck in a time-warp of 1950 flip-charts, Rob needs to use a Topical Bible next time he publically updates his theology, and Harris is so insecure he covered his face with his hat on the cover of his first book.

But I was jealous, frustrated, and scared. Nothing seemed to be working. These guys had something to show for their burnout. “Please God, let me crash in style. At least then I can write about it. Crashing without something to show for it is humiliating.” 

Bad Timing

It should have been a grand time. My wife JoLynn and I were on an Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. I learned a grand lesson, but I didn’t have a grand time learning it.

There were 1200 people on the cruise, 400+ who chose this cruise to hear mega-church pastor/author Max Lucado speak. He had sold over 80 million books. I’ve sold 10k. Why is it when I meet “big name” people I make an idiot out of myself?

Before the cruise I was hoping – praying for a chance to meet Max. I’d love to write more. So, some counsel, a bit of help, an endorsement was in my dreams.

I got close.

After white water rafting in Juneau, we had some time left to blow money in town. I bought a hat. We then headed to a chocolate shop where I ordered a month’s worth of dark chocolate to last us through the afternoon. When I turned around, there was my wife, JoLynn, talking to Max and his wife as if they had known each other for decades. JoLynn is from Texas. Texans can do that. But there was a problem.

I’m not Texan

I stood by stupidly with water dripping off my new made-in-China “ALASKA!” cap listening to the conversation. My mind was a 1970s computer trying to run Windows 8. My screen was blue--my cursor frozen. JoLynn had this “Don’t-destroy-the-moment” look in her eyes.

I did.

All I could think about was what I needed. What I wanted. I wanted him to like me, to ask about me, to be able to tell my story. So, I broke into a story about our son.

“We have this boy Caleb,” I blurted out, “he is 16, our youngest. All of our kids, we have four of them you see, well all four and the husband of our oldest, that makes five, well we were all plus JoLynn and I, that makes seven I guess, well we were sitting around the table one night and, Ugh.” AWKWARD.

Not knowing what to say next I stammered around for a bit, smiled too big, tried to make small talk, felt like an idiot, saw the confused shocked look on JoLynn’s face, tried again, did worse, felt worse, smiled bigger, dug in deeper, and pretty much died in mid-sentence. I’d give more details, but pathetic reliving is painful.

JoLynn dove back in, elegantly asked about how they were doing on the cruise, and said we needed to go. I said nothing.

We walked for a long time. JoLynn broke the silence talking about something else. I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “maybe it didn’t go as bad as I’d imagined.” It was 24 hours before she told me it did.

“So, why do you think you get so intimidated by certain people?” JoLynn asked.

“What do you mean?”

“You know, like yesterday…”

I had really, really hoped she hadn’t noticed. More than that, I had prayed it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. She noticed.

It was.

“It’s just me. I’m just that way. Sorry.” I thought she would get off my case, that it wasn’t something I could do anything about. I was wrong on both accounts.

She told me to “Lean into it.” And to “Figure out why you’re that way.” Ugh. It still amazes me how well I married, and yet how I still hate it when she is right.

Whispers

The next day I got up early to be alone and pray. I’m an extremely non-charismatic kind of guy. When people say “God told me…” it makes me nervous. I want to ask, “Was His voice high or low? Does He still speak in Hebrew?”

But at this point I knew I needed to hear something specific from God. I threw my narrow view of how God had to work overboard, and asked God to speak to me. Then I read and prayed and prayed and read and mostly listened. Silence. Thinking I couldn’t change, and that God wouldn’t speak, I wasn’t too concerned. I should have been.

Through a combination of His Word and my silence, I believe the Spirit spoke to me. One word kept coming back to me over and over again.

Others

I would have preferred a paragraph. Job got three chapters. But there I go again, Job Envy.

Others. I couldn’t let it go. It took about 24 hours before I was convinced God was speaking to me, and I understood what He was trying to say. The two great commandments – love God and love others. Loving God? I can do that. But Others? It’s hard to admit as a pastor, but I just don’t think about others much.

The reason JoLynn could talk to the Lucado’s and I couldn’t--was because she cared about them. She was asking them about their kids and grandkids, about their anniversary (they have the same 30th anniversary date as we do). I tried to talk about me. She asked about them. She understood the cruise wasn’t a vacation for them--it couldn’t be when you are speaking twice a day, signing books over lunch and having to listen to weird ALASKA-cap-wearing pastors in the chocolate shop.

I wondered about my motivation for ministry. Why was I envious of successful pastors? Why did I want our church to grow? Why did I want to see people come to Christ – for their freedom or so I could have a baptism service? Why did I want to write--to help others or to say I’d published? Why was the church not growing – because of a weak marketing strategy, or because I wasn’t doing my job of loving others and making disciples? Sometimes the truth you need to hear to deal with your depression is depressing.

A few days later the cruise was about over, and Max was signing books. JoLynn wanted to go. I didn’t embarrass her this time, and Max was gracious enough to pretend the chocolate shop never happened. Sometimes being invisible is the best you can hope for. Max even did the obligatory picture with us, which we now have plastered on our church website with the subtitle, When Out of the Pulpit, Max Lucado Worships HERE. Marketing Genius.

The Change (or sidebar)

The core problem with our Church wasn’t marketing or tattoos or flip-charts. It was me. As a result, I made some simple, maybe even corny changes – but for me they made a difference.

  1. I started wearing a wristband to remind me to continually ask about what is going on in the lives of others. It became a bit of a game (is that bad?) to see if I could get through an entire Starbucks conversation without ever talking about my life. I now know, care, and pray for others more consistently.
  2. Every Monday I email or call people about requests that came in on Sunday – then if appropriate we pray over them at Staff on Tuesday. Now we are all thinking about others more.
  3. On the top of my sermon notes I put little clues of what people are going through; to remind me to connect with them if possible before the day is over. This has helped me keep others needs on my front burner every time I read my sermon notes.
  4. We’ve added an extra monthly elder, staff, and spouse training, with rotating leadership. This extra meeting has all of us learning, praying, and having fun together.
  5. I asked a few younger guys if they would be willing to meet with me weekly for discipleship. All were thrilled to have been asked, and two have now been baptized. Now their lives are impacting mine.
  6. The elders and staff are now following my lead. They are expected to be discipling at least one person – a decision that has encouraged and changed the lives of the elders and staff as much as those they are meeting with – and encouraging me even more.
  7. Listening made me realize we need to offer a way to help people get into their Bibles on their own. Our first Bible Study Methods class had over twenty meeting weekly, ages 16 to over 60, with seminary style homework. They had been waiting for something like this for years, without my picking up on it.
  8. I got convicted about my own lack of evangelism and started an 8-week “for non-Christians only” seekers and doubters study after Easter. That was the highlight of my year. For me, pagans can be easier to talk to then mega-pastors. We cared for each other and became friends, regardless of our views.
  9. Most importantly, I realized there are just two things I need to do. Make disciples and pay the mortgage. If you can pull off the tattoos and cool glasses, that’s grace.

The Mortgage

The church is now growing, but still small. I took a pay cut to keep the church healthy--that was restored a couple years later. Hybels hasn’t called, Josh Harris hasn’t asked me for hat selection advice, and no one really cares what I think about Love Wins. But I’ve met with God, reorganized my life, and felt redemption.

I don’t envy those with mega-ministries anymore. I’ve not the business-savvy gifts of administration, leadership, and thick skin to pull off a mega-ministry. That doesn’t leave me bummed-out. Instead, I’ve found that working in the area of my giftedness has me given me new energy. We’ve grown enough to pay the bills--but more importantly our leaders are growing, baptisms are up, and we have a plan of discipleship. This is so energizing.

I can now thank God for those who do show up on Sunday rather than stressing about who don’t. I’m not reading about church marketing (I’ll wait for God to send us someone with that vision) or freaked out when a projector breaks. I’m trusting if I love God and others by making disciples; He will take care of His church and the mortgage. We’re growing. We’re healthy. Awesome.

In the picture, am I wrong, or is Max grimacing? 

Mad--Dan

OK – that’s the end of the article. This final week, our monster is Jealousy. Or Envy, whatever you want to call it. Now you know I’ve struggled with it. This Sunday lets figure out how to kill it!

4 Ways to Attend Church

 

  1. In person inside with masks or outside (please bring a chair) – also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
    1. 9am preaching is inside, 10:30 preaching is outside, weather permitting
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On Faithlifetv Livestream
  4. On YouTube Livestream

Hope you can be with us in person or online,

Dan

 

 

spider-2My grandson Memphis currently loves spiders.

I don’t get it.

They look evil, they can bite, and they are silent killers.

No wonder he likes them.

One day back when I was working at Camp Peniel in Texas I needed a shower mid-day. The only open shower was a tiny one in a little bathroom on the side of a building we called “The Motel.” The Motel was an ancient brick building with a half-dozen or so little rooms with tiny guys and girl’s bathrooms on the end of the row. It wasn’t unusual to see frogs in the shower or roaches in the sink. But this day, after I inhaled to wedge myself into the shower, I had finished washing and had just lathered my hair all up with shampoo when something moving above me caught my attention.

A black widow.

A female black widow that had left her sticky mess of a web that was wrapped around the shower light.

She was lowering herself down by a single sticky string. Being that I am 6’2” and was standing in a 7’ shower, she was mighty close. 

Now I know there are good things about spiders. Getting the picture above I read an article listing all the wonderful benefits black widows bring into our lives.

I don’t care.

I freaked out.

But freaked as I was, running out of the bathroom naked with my head all lathered up seemed way worse than a spider bite. So, I got on my knees and tried to rinse my hair really quickly. Then I looked back up.

Lower, but not close.

So, I rinsed some more.

Way lower. WAY CLOSE!

I finished rinsing my hair in the minuscule sink. Roaches don’t bite.

When done and dressed, I went out to my car and pulled out a can of Carburetor Cleaner. I showed no mercy. She fought. She lost. 

Anger is our third monster in our heart.

The first monster was Guilt. It says, “I owe you.” We kill it with confession.

The second was Greed. It says, “I owe me.” We kill it with generosity.

The third monster is Anger. It says, “You owe me.” It’s probably the most difficult of all the monsters in our heart to kill. We can show no mercy. We kill it with forgiveness.

Paul gives us four commands about anger in Ephesians chapter 4. I like the NLT translation here, as it shows the connection between anger and the devil that is there in the Greek but is often missed in our English translations. Here it is…

Eph 4:26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil…. Eph 4:31 (NLT2) Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT2)  

The four commands (imperative verbs) are:

  1. Don’t sin by letting anger control you!
  2. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry!
  3. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger!
  4. Be kind to each other!

There is no messing around here, no taking home the spider as a pet. No putting it in plastic to make it into a gear shift knob (my brother did that with a black widow. It did look cool.) We are ordered to kill it ASAP, otherwise the Devil can get a foothold in our lives.

That, I assume, is a bad thing.

I hope you can come Sunday as we learn more about Killing Anger from Pastor Tom Lambelet.

DON’T FORGET: If you are interested in being baptized on Mother’s Day, we have a baptism class THIS SUNDAY during the first service at 9am in the Youth Room. If you can let me know you are coming, that will ensure I’ll have enough material. Just shoot me an email at .

4 Ways to Attend Church

  1. In person inside with masks or outside (please bring a chair) – also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
    1. 9am preaching is inside, 10:30 preaching is outside, weather permitting
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On Faithlifetv Livestream
  4. On YouTube Livestream

Hope you can be with us in person or online,

Dan

 

 

website2Are you greedy? I don’t think I am. In fact, I’d like to be even more generous!

But then I’d also like to be in better shape.

Too bad liking isn’t being.

So, are we greedy? Here is our test, shamelessly stolen from Andy Stanley’s book It Came from Within, but updated and improved for clarity, conviction, and to better prepare for this Sunday’s sermon. Here we go.

 

You might be greedy if you…. 

  1. Talk and worry a lot about money
  2. Are not a happy giver
  3. Are reluctant to share
  4. Quibble over insignificant amounts of money
  5. Always talk like you’re broke, and use that as an excuse to give less
  6. Keep a record of what you’ve done for others
  7. Are reluctant to express gratitude to others
  8. Aren’t content with what you have
  9. Attempt to control others with your money – always strings attached
  10. Keep asking WHAT IF – What if it gets scratched, gets lost, if there isn’t enough, if I don’t get my fair share, if she gets more, if the economy collapses…? 

 

And here are a few fun quotes, most of which didn’t make it into the sermon. 

 

  1. “He who is greedy is always in want.” --Horace (Roman Poet 65-8 B.C)
  2. “We are all born brave, trusting and greedy, and most of us remain greedy.” --Mignon McLaughlin
  3. “The poor lack much, but the greedy more.” Swiss Proverb
  4. “A greedy father has thieves for children.” Serbian Proverb
  5. “There are many things we would throw away if we were not afraid others would pick them up.” --Oscar Wilde
  6. “To greed, all nature is insufficient.” --Seneca (Roman Philosopher 1st Century)
  7. “Greed brings grief to the whole family.”—Solomon, Proverbs 15:27
  8. “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”—Ben Franklin

So, now you have a couple days to be generous, that way you can come to church Sunday and leave guilt-free!

Hope you can be with us in person or online,

Dan

 

 

website2Have you ever said something awful, (or hit “send” or “post”) and then thought, “I can’t believe I just said that! That’s not like me!”

Actually, it is.

It’s just you with your filters removed.

It came from your heart.

Do any of these phrases ring a bell? It broke her heart, he has a hard heart, a stubborn heart, she’s lost heart, a rejoicing heart, his heart’s desire, a troubled heart, a sinful heart, a repentant heart, a clean heart. These phrases are rooted in the Bible. God cares about our hearts, not just our behavior.

When I grew up, I remember getting spankings, both at home and at school. It did a marvelous job at changing my behavior, but not my heart. Once I became a Christian, and not just a Cooley, I became concerned about more than my actions. I wanted to be different, not just behave differently.

C.S. Lewis, as usual, puts it the best. He wrote,

“This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts, they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats, it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily, they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”

Our heart has monsters inside. Big rats. Maybe it’s a good thing we have filters.

Jesus used fewer words than Lewis. He said, Mt 15:17 Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. (NLT2)  

If you are a follower of Jesus, God has given you a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). If we keep it cleaned out, we shouldn’t need a filter. Somehow, like dust in Rio Rancho, the monsters sneak back in, and a series like this can help us clean house.

This series is about getting rid of four common monsters in our hearts. The topics and definitions, which were shamelessly stolen from Pastor Andy Stanley’s book Enemies of the Heart, are:

  • 4/11 Guilt, which says I owe you
  • 4/18 Greed, which says I owe me,
  • 4/25 Anger, which says you owe me, and finally
  • 5/2 Jealousy, which says God owes me.

I hope you can join us.

Dan

4 Ways to Attend

  1. In person inside with masks or outside (please bring a chair) – also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
    1. 9am preaching is inside, 10:30 preaching is outside, weather permitting
    2. Children's Church, 10:30 service only
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On Faithlifetv Livestream
  4. On YouTube Livestream