Thursday, January 22, 2015

How To Get A Date For Valentine's Day

I was "dating" in a day and age when there was no such thing as "online date sites," in fact personal computers were just coming out and I couldn't afford one. And not to mention Al Gore hadn't invented the internet yet. (ha ha)

I think that "online dating," is helpful for many people, especially those who live in a small town, work a lot, or may be an introvert. I have officiated hundreds of weddings for couples who found true love online. But I want to challenge you to get dates the old fashion way, which I think (in my humble opinion) work just as well as the online way.

To get a date by Valentine's Day it only really requires one thing; Courage!


  • If you see someone you find attractive or interesting, go talk to them!

If you see someone with great hair, pretty eyes, or nice shoes, have the courage to tell them. Overcome the fear! Now, don't be weird or creepy about it! That would work against you. Just be calm, cool and collected. Don't let fear keep you from possibly meeting the person of your dreams. Seriously, you may be the very person they have been dreaming about, don't be selfish. Be bold, be courageous!

It's important to not play the, "what if" game; what if they turn me down? What if they laugh? What if they slap me? First, they won't slap you (unless you are inappropriate or rude! Then you deserve it.) The important thing to think is; what if they say yes?

I challenge you to live by this rule: Don't say people's no for them! Give them the opportunity to say yes, or no. We shouldn't make the decision for them. Live fearless! Have fun!


Disclaimer: Obviously this is for singles! And I am NOT talking about "hooking up" I am talking about going on legit dates. I do not encourage or support the "hookup" lifestyle. I am hoping to help singles who are genuinely looking for that someone special, and have fun in the process.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

God's Got You

Have you ever had that overwhelming feeling of falling? Or at least that feeling that you are slipping off a cliff that you are barely hanging on to? For some it's financial, others it's relational, maybe it's business, or it's your health that seems to be slipping away. No matter what it is the feeling is the same; You get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, you lose your appetite, and your hands get cold and clammy.

At some point we've each faced that feeling. So what do you do with it? How do you react? What do you say? What do you think? What is your response? I do know this, it's not healthy or even helpful to live there in that anxious fearful emotion. We must have another, more powerful, thought that leads to a better healthier emotion.

I believe if we can replace that fearful thought with a faith-filled thought we then have a hopeful faith-filled emotion that follows. Make sense?

For example, I was talking to a good friend of mine about some of my cares and worries and he said, "Timmy, don't worry bro God's got you!" And with that one thought I was able to replace my fear with hope. And I begin to dwell on that, and think, "yes God does have me, He always has, and always will."

One of my favorite verses:

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - NIV

So to you I say, "(insert your name here) that thing you are going through, don't worry about it! God's got you! You are going to make it."




Friday, January 9, 2015

A Growing Faith

I was enjoying a great cup of coffee at Kaldi's Coffee on the Plaza here in Kansas City the other day when someone recognized me and proceeded to ask me some questions about faith and spirituality. I always enjoy those conversations!

The Question: 
If I want to grow spiritually, what should I do?

My Answer:
That's easy; and you can start today! I will admit this will seem elementary, but I can promise you the things that are easy to do are easy NOT to do. Many many Christians are failing to do many of the things I will put here. But if you do them your faith will grow so far beyond what you would have ever thought it could. I will admit though, each of these things must be done, you can't skip any of them. Now, don't get legalistic here or overwhelmed! It's the principles behind each thing that are important, and you can think outside the box of just how to accomplish them.

It's like a marriage; there are things you must do to have a healthy happy growing relationship with your spouse. But, it's more the principles behind each thing we must do that is important not just the thing itself. Make sense? Some people, even well meaning (though mis-informed, and even mis-led), feel that some of the things I will list here are "too legalistic"... and I believe they are ONLY if you make them that way. You don't need to make them legalistic. They can be what you do as an expression of your love and appreciation to God! In other words, I don't do these things to get God's approval or to get God to love me more or even to stop God from killing me. I do what I do because I love and trust God, and all that I have is His. Period. And that is how we all should live and love! And keeping in mind this is a journey, not a destination ... this is the path I am on, not perfect, but moving in the right direction.


6 STEPS FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH


1) Read the Bible. (Study)

Listening to Bible would be the same. Depending on my schedule I do both.

Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.


2) Pray. (Meditation)

Simply communication. Talking and listening.

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.


3) Give. (Generosity) 


  • Giving Financial (Contributions)

It's unfortunate, but many Christians get hung up on this one issue for one reason or another and miss out on a level of blessing from the Lord that is theirs if they'd only obey.

I do believe and teach in 'Tithing' giving a tenth of your earnings to your local church, though I am also okay with people being givers of a regular amount whatever % that is. I've heard some people who reject the 'tithe' teaching to only find out that it was because they don't give anything.

2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.  


  • Giving Time (Volunteer)

I feel, at least from my personal experience, Christians (and even those who do not consider themselves Christians) do a pretty good job here. I have people ask, "well isn't giving my time like giving money?" And the answer is - no, it's not. Giving of your money takes way more faith, trust, love and commitment, hence the reason it's so difficult for people to do. And why people make every excuse under the sun not to give, even so-called 'Biblical' excuses about "the tithe being an Old Testament thing ... and we don't have to do it." etc. All an attempt to feel better about what we do or don't do.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. 

Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.


4) Go to church. (Community)

"Hey, you can be a Christian without going to church Timmy!" Yes you can! And you can also be a human without bathing, but you would smell much better if you did! Ha ha!

What typically happens to people is they have some falling out with someone at a church, then they get out of the habit of going. It's easy to do, and easy not to do. I get it! And frankly I could write a book on this topic alone. But let me just argue the point with this thought; Nothing bad can come of attending church, especially one you like and it a good fit. I mean seriously, you going to let some disagreement keep you away from fellowship with others and faith? That would be childish! Anytime you get a few people together there are going to be issues. It's just life. Life is messy from time to time.

I have been attending church weekly for 45 years now and I wouldn't change it! If I could go back I would still attend church every single weekend. And I am committed to attending church every weekend until I die, no matter the disagreements I have with people in the church or out of the church.

One last thought here, and I apologize ahead of time to those of you who don't attend church! Another important factor in attending church is helping to balance out whacky beliefs we have from time to time. This isn't always true, but I find it to be so many times; when Christians don't attend church their views can become a little out there. And they need community to help keep their feet on the ground. I think the reason for this is that people crave "spirituality" and they take in whatever they hear, therefor they are like that verse in Ephesians 4:14 that says: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 


Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.


5) Small Group. (Friendship & Fellowship)

As a pastor I encourage people to get involved in a small group. The reality is that many people are in a small group already, they just don't know it. And just maybe all that's needed is a little more intentionality, as it relates to "spiritual growth", but the people are most likely are already around you. And by definition a small group is just that, a small group. So if 3 people are meeting together regularly, then boom there it is - ingredients for a small group.

It's difficult to force friendships. Let's be honest here, not everyone gels with everyone else. We've all met those people who you feel you have known your whole life, it's easy to talk to them, interests are similar, goals, ideals, etc. all seem to be easy things to talk about. But then on the other hand we've all met those people who just make you wish you were deaf. Everything they like you hate. All that to say, find a few people you can related to, gel with, and forge some solid life-long friendships.

Little side journey: Good friends aren't those who are always there, but those who lead you and encourage you to greater heights of integrity, character, love, forgiveness, and faith. If they are gossipy, hateful, negative, divisive ... run away! Fast!

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.


6) Diary. (Journaling)

I was encouraged many years ago to keep a diary. I have been good at times and bad at times at keeping up with it. But when I do it's such a joy to pen my thoughts, my struggles, my disappointments, my prayers, etc. I think it to be a valuable tool to spiritual growth. Plus it's something that will be given to my children when I die, so they can see my life parts of my life as I journaled them and get a glimpse of me by it.

Habakkuk 2:2 Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it."


Summing it all up:

I would like to add that not only are the things mentioned above important to DO, I would also encourage you limit or discontinue all-together things you know you shouldn't be doing. Make sense? If you are cleaning out a pool, but continue to throw dirt in as you clean, you will never get the pool completely clean and in the condition you wish to have it.

I sincerely hope that you have a kickass 2015!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Navigating Religious Diversity

I'm the founding pastor of a wonderful church in Kansas City named Mercy Church. We are an Non-denominational christian church. We are what you would call Evangelical, though I find that we are unique in many ways, especially in our approach to theological differences and our position on some social issues in culture today. We allow for *theological differences, even on our leadership team. From my personal experience this is very unique.

I remember going to church as a teenager, even young adult, where if I was going to volunteer I had to fill out and sign a form on the 17 things the church believed that I must believe too (not all the things were even theological) before I could volunteer. This form was required to be re-filled out and signed every year. And what I later learned is that most people in that environment just checked "YES" and then signed whether they agreed or not, it was just easier that way. I could not do that, it seemed to me to be an integrity breach to say, "Yes I believe that" when secretly I did not believe that.

At Mercy Church we have nearly every religious background present. We have Jewish congregants (not messianic either), a couple people from a Buddhist background (still practicing), a Jehovah's Witness (which if you know anything about JW's they are not allowed to be a part of anything other than JW churches) ...we even **had an Atheist attending for a year. This is fascinating to me, especially since we teach from a Biblical perspective a Christian message of hope through Jesus Christ and Him alone. I believe it to be our loving approach and the way we allow for questions, discussions and differences to exist while maintaining unity in faith. I believe in a loving God who understands all our journeys, no matter where we are.

Our primary membership is made up of mainline Christian denominations, with a heavy splash of Catholic, Methodist, and Baptist. A true melting pot of religious diversity. And I love that. I never set out to start an all Republican-Voting Baptist-Hymn-singing church. (Nothing wrong with being Republican or Baptist or singing Hymns! Just sayin!) I wanted a church that would rally around the two main messages of Jesus, which is found in Matthew 22:37-40 where Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

1) Love God!
2) Love People & Love Yourself!

And in my 20 + years of ministry I have finally come to except that not every church needs to be like Mercy Church. We are who we are, other churches are who they are ... we need all flavors to be about fulfilling the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ in this world, and that's to "Make disciples!"

Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ..."

For me, more than anything, I want Mercy Church (and my life in general) to be a reflection of Jesus' love for all people! I want Mercy Church to be a place where anyone and everyone feels loved and accepted; whether they are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or from some other religious group.

*Theological Differences: We are a Christian church, so when I say, "theological differences" I am referring to what falls under the acceptable Biblical views and positions of our Christian faith. Make sense? Frankly, views that have been argued over and discussed in the church for thousands of years. I think it's a bit prideful for one group to feel they have all the answers and have God all figured out.

**Had: He eventually accepted the message of Jesus, though we never pressured him, ever! One Sunday he just confessed to me that he decided that everything I was teaching was good, and that he finally felt the boundaries that were keeping him from faith came down. And like I said, we never made him feel like he didn't fit in. I actually found his atheism fascinating.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Make Your Life Great

Are you living the life you want to live?

Do you have the kind of friends you wish to have?

Do you have a job you love?

Are you happy in your marriage?

Are you happy with your relationship with your children?

Do you love your home?

Are you growing in your relationship with God?

These are some great questions for us all to consider this first week of the New Year; especially since we are just a couple days in to the New Year. What do you want out of this one and only life you get to live? If you want great stuff, then put great stuff into it! You get, primarily, from life, relationships, faith, love, companionship, what you put into it. 

If you want to make your life great, then start putting great stuff into your life ... today! Then everyday after that continue to put great stuff in, then continue on this path for the rest of your days here on earth. And if you do the universe (I believe it to be God) will bring you the life you've always dreamed of having. This of course doesn't mean you will be exempt from trials and hardships, life is life and always will be life ... and sometimes "shit happens."

CHALLENGE:

Sit down this weekend and go through the questions above, answer them honestly. Then create a simple action plan to begin heading in the direction you wish to go. And remember it's not about getting there tomorrow, or even by the end of this year, but to be headed that way at least. Make sense?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Eve @ Mercy Church

I would like to personally invite you to one of our two *Christmas Eve services at Mercy Church this year being held on Wednesday, December 24 at 7pm and 9pm

LOCATION

7457 Cherokee Dr.
Prairie Village, KS 66208

(Northwest corner of 75th and Belinder Ave)


7:00 pm - Communion Christmas Eve

In our 7:00 pm service we will be taking Communion during the service as a part of the worship. We have what is referred to as an "Open Communion" which means you do not need to be a member at Mercy Church to take communion. Of course you are not required to take communion. This is also the service we will be offering a program for the children in a separate area from adults. 


9:00 pm - Candlelight Christmas Eve

Our 9:00 pm service will be the classic Candlelight service. We can not guarantee everyone will get their own personal candle, but each family will get one for sure. Everyone will be in the main sanctuary together for the entire service. There will be no childcare provided for this service.



AFTER SERVICE COFFEE & SNACKS

We also would like to invite you to join us after each service in the Fellowship Hall for a time of great conversation with friends and family as well as enjoying great coffee and some snacks! 
Please feel free to BRING a favorite Christmas Snack to share!


IS THERE A DRESS CODE?

No. There is no dress code at Mercy Church. That said, no speedos please, even if they are a Christmas themed! Ha ha! On a serious note, you will see people wearing suits, others in jeans and t-shirts, so just come as you wish.



*Both are services will be exactly the same except for the element of Communion and Candlelight.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Life Rarely Goes As Planned

I would imagine your life is much like mine; doesn't always go as I planned it. What the heck, it should know better! Ha ha! But I love that phrase, "With God there are no surprises!" So whatever it is in your life that isn't what you planned, my advise it roll with it. I always say, it is what it is and gripping, grumbling and complaining about it will not be beneficial or helpful in anyway shape or form. So chose happiness, smile big and do what you need to do. Life is way too short to be unhappy, and happiness is a choice and has very little to do with our circumstances.

I understand all the emotions we have when the thing we wanted to happen didn't, or the thing we didn't want to happen did, but we still have to make a choice on how we will behave moving forward. To me it's a sign of someone's emotional maturity to be able to take life as it comes, the good, the bad and the ugly, and maintain an optimistic happy faith filled attitude.

So whatever it is you are facing today, or what comes tomorrow just know this, 'it is what it is', so roll with it with faith and love and know and trust that God is right smack-dab in the middle of it with you! It's all good, because God makes it good! You got this!

Remember: YOUR LIFE MATTERS!