Deadheading – A Ministry Project

DEADHEADING

I’ve shared in the past that as a Freshman in college, a friend of mine and her family owned a Rhododendron garden – they even had their own species of Rhododendron that they had created from cross pollination. It was pretty crazy, but if I’m being honest…all of the plants seemed the same to me with some different variations of color. Shows how much I know about being a botanist. (I even had to look up the word, “botanist” – HA!)

While I may have not learned much about Rhododendrons or species, what I did catch onto was caring for these shrubs. In a term that I came to know as “deadheading”, I would walk through the garden with my friend and her family, and using our thumb nails, we would find the dead sprouts or flowers and pluck them out. The reason for deadheading is so that as the shrub draws nourishment from the soil and sun so that it’s not working to give life to something that is lifeless. Instead, when you deadhead a plant or a bush or a shrub or a tree, in affect what you’re doing is helping that shrub to focus it’s nutrients and energies into the rest of the bush, limbs and sprouts that are active and alive and that can use the nutrients. It’s capitalizing on the good and getting rid of the bad.

As a Pastor, I feel that an important aspect of my ministry is to “deadhead”. In other words, it’s really quite important for me to capitalize on the gifts, strengths and experiences that God has given me while also working to shore-up my weaknesses. A part of this deadheading process for me looks like taking on an intentional process of prayerfully choosing an aspect of life and ministry that I am going to focus on working at each year.

STRATEGY

This year, with the help and encouragement of my church’s leadership team and my staff, I have chosen to work on developing a strategy designed to help me cultivate a long-term, healthy, life-giving ministry while also working to find balance in my personal life in order to honor God and seeking to become the best version of a husband and father that I can possibly be.

A part of this process for me looks like spending intentional time investigating other pastors whom have proven track records of success in both life and ministry – fellow leaders of the church that have at least 10 years tenure with the same church of 1,000 people or more, that also have a family. Why? Because this is smack-dab in the middle of where I find myself in this season!

I want to be a man of wisdom, a man that can learn from the experience(s) of those that have gone before me or that are currently navigating these incredible waters of life and leadership in the local church. Not only do I want to learn, but I want to work with my staff and leadership toward developing a long-term strategy bathed in prayer and geared toward progressing into this next season, with the end-goal in site of healthy, growing, sustainable and life-giving ministry in our local church and beyond.

GIVER OF THE GIFT

Along with my desire to learn and grow, I am hopeful that I will be able to be a “giver of the gift”. Plainly put, I want to serve others in life and ministry when they are looking at making the most of what God has given them by way of leadership in the church. Though I have done consulting and coaching many times over the years, it is my hope that I can work with our church, leadership team and staff, toward developing a culture and habit of investing in other churches and pastors – the hope of being a tremendously helpful and encouraging resource, walking alongside other ministers and ministries in seeing God’s kingdom come this side of heaven in local ministries and communities all over the world.

WHAT’S NEXT?

In considering what’s next, I have already begun working out the details with my leadership team and staff, details which include attending a few other churches, meeting with several Lead/Senior Pastors in an intentional interview, continuing to partner with my mentors, and working with a fantastic team of people to build a strategy, making every effort to see this project come to fruition. This is in no way a few day process, but will likely take months, even years, if I am to continue to learn and grow as well as carry on with encouraging, coaching, consulting with, and investing in other pastors, leaders, ministries and churches for many years to come.

I would love to ask you to be lifting me, our leadership and staff, and our church up in prayer as we begin this process and as we move into a whole new season of life and ministry together within our church and throughout our community.

Looking forward to the best days ahead!

A. Anderson

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THE JIG IS UP!

In the 1800’s a new term surfaced through a prominent newspaper out of Philadelphia.

“The Jig Is Up!”

More than 2 millennia later this terminology lives on.

“The jig is up” by its very definition is intended to communicate that the truth of any circumstance or situation has surfaced despite an intentional effort to mislead others by pulling the wool over their eyes. It’s literally as to say, you’ve been found out! No more pretense. No more games. No more faking or facades. The jig is up!

This past Sunday I preached week 3 of our “Timeless Truth” series from Titus 1:10-16 and was blessed to address how, through our actions and the fruit of our lives and faith, we can absolutely determine a person’s commitment to Christ. I also had an obligation to address church splits and the byproduct(s) of a body of believers divided. Not only does a church split divide the body of Christ, it devastates entire communities!

Here is the passage from Sunday’s message:

10 For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation.11 They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money. 12 Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” 13 This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith. 14 They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth. 15 Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good. (Titus 1:10-16 | NLT)

In comparison to the 17 qualities and characteristics of an appointed elder in the church, God shows us 5 opposed character traits and behaviors of false teachers that are intentionally looking to divide the church and ruin the community of Christ through luring people away from the church and the truth of God.

Here are the 5 characteristics Paul calls out to Titus, that Titus is responsible to be aware of and on the lookout for:


#1  //  False teachers are rebellious

Rebellious means to “come against authority, wanting to seize control, engaged in opposition, and a defiant spirit”. We must be careful to examine the motives and intentions of those wanting to assume responsibility within the church. It is our responsibility to examine their practices as opposed to recklessly adopting their words and weigh all things with Scripture. Those that truly love God will actively set aside their own agendas, making every effort to KEEP THE UNITY OF THE BODY


#2  //  False teachers engage in useless talk

Useless talk as is mentioned in Titus addressing the people of the churches in Crete affords us the opportunity to consider 2 things:

First: Religious people like to puff-up their own ego and self-righteousness – they like to hear themselves talk and attempt to prove their worth and merit by what they say. This talk is meaningless!

Proverbs 26:4 (NLT): “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,or you will become as foolish as they are.”

Titus 3:9 (NLT): “Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time.”

Second: This problem is also indicative of poor leadership; of people saying one thing with their mouth, but not following through, backing up their speech by their actions!

Proverbs 14:23 (NLT): “Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!”

2 Timothy 2:16 (NLT): “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.”

Matthew 5:37 – “Let your ‘yes be yes’ and your ‘no be no!'”

In short, as Christians, our responsibility is to not get caught up in useless theological debates meant for causing division. Instead, we have an opportunity to look to create unity in the body with our words and the conversations that we’re a part of and that we facilitate. Beyond this, we also have an obligation to follow through on what we say – not making commitments with our mouths only to abandon our obligation(s) for another opportunity that we see as more beneficial to our lives.


#3  //  False teachers deceive others

These are people that like to and do talk senselessly for personal gain and their own benefit. These people are drawing others away from the truth of God by their deliberate and selfish actions.

Though there are many problems with this outright sinful behavior, the greatest damage is done in the heart and lived out through the actions of these deceivers.

Consider what the Bible says:

Philippians 2:3 (NLT): Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Romans 12:10 (NLT): Love each other with genuine affection,[a] and take delight in honoring each other.


#4  //  False teachers are focused on religion

These are those who insist on religion over relationship (circumcision before salvation) and were known as the Judaizers. These Judaizers were Jews and the “religious elite” that taught how Gentiles had to obey all the Jewish laws (613 in total) before they could experience Christianity. The greatest problem that I see without stating the obvious of how absurd and ridiculous this superimposed religiosity is on people is that…IT IS NOT BIBLICAL!

Far too many body of believers and those hiding behind the banner of Christianity are doing more harm than good, leading people to believe that they have to have “everything together” before they can come to church or encounter Christ. What the heck does this even mean, to have “everything together”? It’s ridiculous and a complete manmade system of thinking so as to puff themselves up and create unnecessary barriers for the people that most need an encounter with Jesus to experience Him. STOP IT!!!

Another problem that I see with Judaizers is that this is an incredible example of religion OVER a right-relationship with Jesus; of people choosing to try and will their way to salvation rather than experiencing the GRACE of God in their lives.

Ephesians 2:8 (NLT): “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

HOW DOES GOD VIEW RELIGION?

James 1:27 (NLT): “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”


#5  //  False teachers do what they do for their own personal gain

In other words, these are the people only concerned with their personal gain and greatest benefit to themselves, willing to sacrifice anything to get their desired outcome. And what does the Word of God say about these false teachers?

THESE PEOPLE MUST BE SILENCED!

“Silenced” = Σπιστομιζω | verb | epistomizo | ep-ee-stom-id-zo  //  “to muzzle, to be silenced, to stop the mouth”.

One of the many responsibilities of our pastors, elders and the leaders of our church is to ensure sound doctrine and to protect against false teachers. We have a responsibility as elders to protect the flock, guide the sheep, and defend against harm and predators!

In short, what Paul is encouraging to Titus with regards to the early church(es) on the Island of Crete is to identify, call out and inform these false teachers that The Jig Is Up!

No more pretense. Masks and games set aside. We’ve identified you for who you are based on your actions and how you live your life.

What’s more is that for us as Christians seeking to honor God in all things, we must move away from mere lip-service and into a active lifestyle!

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 (NLT): “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. 10 Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more. 11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”
For more on this subject, be sure to click the video link above and follow along as I walk us through the entire passage from Titus 1:10-16.

A. Anderson

 

 

G.P.S.

 

Global Positioning System

Originally designed by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) by industry leading scientists during the Sputnik era, the world was first introduced to satellites that were/are able to track our positions based on what we now know as the “Doppler Effect”. As early as the 1960’s, the United States Navy began to employ GPS with hopes of effectively tracking their Submarines, which were responsible for carrying nuclear missiles.

More than 50 years later, today GPS (Global Positioning System) is a space-based radionavigation system owned by the US Government and operated by the United States Air Force to meet national defense, homeland security, civil, commercial, and scientific needs and is used globally for tracking location and in providing navigation for not only the Department of Defense and the US Military, but by civilians the world-over.

The unique function of GPS is that it gives direction(s) to a designated location based on coordinates; information about how to get where you want to go based on research, previous experience, and satellites. If you’re anything like me, more often than not, you miss a turn or lack attention based on other distractions and your GPS has to “reroute” your directions in order to achieve your destination. It happens to me more than I care to admit! Ha!!

 

Gospel Position through Scripture

On Sunday we picked up the second message in our “Timeless Truths” series; a study through the book of Titus. More specifically we worked through Titus 1:5-9:

I (Paul) left you (Titus) on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

As part of this message we focused on the 17 qualifications and attributes of an Elder which Paul readily identifies (takes the guesswork out) for Titus – clear instructions on what he was responsible for and what, rather, who he was to be actively pursuing in consideration of experiencing life and ministry together. Among the list of 17 included 5 prohibitions along with 12 active-expectations, including:

  1. An elder must live a blameless life (mentioned twice in the passage)
  2. An elder must be faithful to his wife
  3. An elder’s children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious
  4. An elder must be a leader, whom is a manager of God’s household
  5. An elder must not be arrogant
  6. An elder must not be quick-tempered
  7. An elder must not be a heavy drinker
  8. An elder must not be violent
  9. An elder must not be dishonest with money
  10. An elder must enjoy having guests in his home
  11. An elder must love what is good
  12. An elder must live wisely
  13. An elder must be just
  14. An elder must live a devout
  15. An elder must live a disciplined life
  16. An elder must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught
  17. An elder must be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching

The individuals and noise that we allow to speak into our lives and with which we derive our direction(s) in life based on popculture and the latest fads or trends will always leave us wondering the wilderness, constantly needing to reroute us. In short, the ways of this world – recieving our guidance and instructions from influencers this side of heaven which are separate from God’s Word, will always leave us longing for more and absolutely frustrated by our lack of clear directions and useful instructions.

Instead, I believe that we must long for and cling to our designed GPS or Gospel Position through Scripture!

I once heard an acronym to help us understand the principle(s) and purpose of the Bible:

B – basic
I – instructions
B – before
L – leaving
E – earth

So long as we are learning, applying and clinging to the very Word of God, we will have all of the direction we will ever need. No more cheap imitations and looking to the things of this world to lead us where only God is capable of taking us.

Live out your life on purpose, my friends, and focus on God’s Gospel Position through Scripture to guide, lead and direct you both now and all of the days of your life!

To hear more from Sunday’s message, be sure to click the video up-top.

A. Anderson

Grace BEFORE Peace

This past weekend we launched into a new series that we’re calling, “Timeless Truths” – a study through the book of Titus.

Greetings from Paul

“1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him. I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.”

Here are some takeaways from the first installment of our series entitled, “Grace Before Peace.”

  • Much like the island of Crete when Paul wrote his letter to Titus whom was responsible for caring for and leading the church(es), we live in a day, age and culture that prides itself on relativism, including a large emphasis on relative truth(s) as well as relative circumstances.
  • God’s Word is timeless; it is unchanging and perfect, remaining uncompromising and complete!
  • Understanding our position in life and the kingdom of God leads us to adopting our purpose (what God would have from us and for us).
  • Until we truly identify and accept WHO’s we are, we will never be fully capable of living out WHO we are!
  • Facts change, but the truth of God never does!
  • The truth of God’s word leads us to complete confidence.
  • When considering what God would have from us and for us, we must recognize that the time is now! We are called to be a Christian community of action!
  • Throughout Scripture, grace always precedes peace!

People search the world over in desperation of peace; a comfort and calm for their soul. Too often this search for peace leads to a lot of empty, cheap imitations that not only lack the ability to fill the void of peace that only God can fill, but it pulls us further away from knowing the grace and peace of God.

If as you read this collection of thoughts right now and you catch yourself wrestling with the idea of true and complete PEACE, I would argue that you need to ask yourself if you have ever experienced the GRACE of God. Until we recognize, accept and live out of the grace that can only come through Jesus Christ (G.R.A.C.E.  //  God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense), we will never experience that peace which surpasses all understanding.

I invite you to listen in to the Word from Sunday and ask God to prepare your heart to accept his grace and experience true peace.

A. Anderson