Thursday, January 13, 2011

Disposable Friendships

I have been doing some pondering this week on friendship. According to my Facebook page I have 695 friends. I had more than that but I “unfriended” some I didn’t really know. I imagine I have been “unfriended” too. As I was thinking about that, a thought came to mind: We live in a time with “Disposable Friendships.” Now I realize that is not a pleasant thought, but let me tell you what I mean by that.

I have a few very close friends. Friends I have known for years that stick closer than a brother. I have had friendships at the different places I have worked and preached that seemed “close,” but when I moved, they ended for all intents purposes (Even though we promised to keep in touch). Then there are those friendships that seemed very close, but I felt it was kind of a one way street. When I pulled back from the friendship my feelings were confirmed. No phone calls. No “what’s wrong?” No “can we talk?” It just ended.

The fact is, some people aren’t willing to do what it takes to salvage a relationship. It’s not that they don’t like you; it’s just easier to make new friends than actually work on a relationship. Relationships take work; Hard work! No relationship is a one way street.

I was talking with my old friend Jeff Flannery a few months back. Jeff and I went to High School together. Jeff plays guitar a rock band. I got to see him a couple of times last year when his band played in Seattle. It was great to see him some 20 years later. As we were talking one day on the phone, he said “You know Glenn, I just love you man! All these years later and it’s like we never missed a beat. In this business you meet a lot of people who claim to be your friend, but then you find out they were only your friend because of what you could offer them. I have found some of the only real friends I ever had were the ones back in High School.”

I feel honored, but it is a sad statement. Yet I wonder how many of us could repeat it? Some of my closest friends are the ones that date back to High School. When I was having heart scare last year, my friends Chris and Byron were ready to hop on a plane and head this way. I met Byron when I was 17 and Chris when I was 8. I don’t talk to these guys every day, but I know they are there. You have people like that too don’t you?

What about the people in your life right now? Maybe a better question is, Am I being that kind of friend for someone who needs it, or do I view friendships as disposable?

Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 18:24 - A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Here is the point: Friendships were never meant to be disposable. Work to keep your friendships alive. Realize they are a two way street. If you have a friendship now that is not as close as it once was, ask yourself what you have done to make it that way. Ask yourself what you can do to salvage it. The other person may need your friendship more than you know.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Life Without Grace

I don't know about you, but the title of this blog makes me cringe. I can't possibly imagine a life without grace. But for some, the concept of grace is difficult. It was for me for much of my life. As much as I love and respected my preacher growing up, grace was not a typical Sunday morning sermon topic.

And as I entered the ministry, I didn't often see grace among church members. I saw anger, resentment, racism, and elitism; but little grace. I had a woman in my office today describing her upbringing and she used the words, "there was no grace." My wife and I have recently reached out to a couple of young people who have made some missteps in their lives. One feels and complete rejection from "the church," and the other feels rejection from their "Christian" family.

I remember being at a congregation where a young lady responded on Sunday asking the church for forgiveness for a sexual relationship that had become public. I had one person say to me, "the only reason she responded was because she got caught." My response was "well praise God she got caught!"

In 2 Samuel, David received a great promise from God. God had promised to establish a kingdom through the linage of David that would stand forever. Because of Gods promise, David knelt in reverence declaring the sovereignty of God. For all intents and purposes, David had reached a pinnacle in life that few ever reach. But when David reached that pinnacle, he did what many others do: he fell. He committed a sexual sin with Bathsheeba and murdered her husband in the process of trying to cover it up.

In chapter 12 we read where David was rebuked. Without going over the whole story, when David realized he was busted, he repented. And guess what God did? FORGAVE! But what did it take? It took him getting caught to realize the magnitude of his sin.

I guess I am rambling, but the point I am trying to make is that we need to make sure that the church is a place people can find grace. The Christian home is a place where children should find grace. I am not saying that we should use this a permission to let people sin or children disobey; but when they do we should take the opportunity to show grace. How can people ever understand God's grace if they don't see it from God's people?

When people are brought face to face with their sin, it is not rejection they need. It is love, compassion, and grace. And if your wondering how many times you should forgive someone, a good question to ask yourself is this: "How many times have I sinned?" What would your life be like without grace? The very thought should make us cringe.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From the Other Side of the Hospital Bed

As a minister, I have made trips to the hospital many times. I have rejoiced those who are celebrating the birth of a child and I have cried with those mourning the loss of a loved one. I have sat at the bedside of those battling cancer and I have prayed with those who are scared of what the doctor is going to say. But last weekend I was given a new perspective. I was the one in the hospital bed.

I first want to say that I appreciate all the love and support that was given to me by those who called, visited, emailed, texted, facebooked, and prayed. But I also experienced a few things that were not so positive. For years I have had people say to me that people with good intentions often said and did discouraging things while they were in the hospital. After this past weekend I can say that this is true. And I do not write this as a rant, but as to teach.

So after my experience over the weekend, and years of people telling me of their experiences, here are a few pointers if you have a loved one or a friend in the hospital:
• Keep visits short. Normally the patient will be tired from tests and/or medication.

• During the visit, focus your attention on the patient. Talk to them, not about them to others in the room.

• Do not give reasons why you think they may be in the hospital. Even if you think they brought it on themselves because of stress or lifestyle, it is probably best you keep that information to yourself. Job’s three friends did great until they started telling him why he was sick. Then in 16:2 Job refers to them as “miserable comforters.” They best thing you can do for someone is be there. You don’t have to say everything you think.

• Be careful about using sarcastic humor. Sometimes the patient may not be in the mood for joking and humor and may take it more personally than you intended.

• Be patient with the patient. Don’t lecture them or get frustrated with them even if you think they are being crabby or feeling sorry for themselves. If you have not been in their shoes, you have no idea what they are feeling.

This experience has made me see some changes I need to make when I go visit others. It has also helped me to see I need to do a better job not making excuses and just go. Now that I have been in those shoes (actually brown socks with sticky stuff on the bottom) I have a new perspective. I hope all who read this will take it with the spirit intended. Not as a rant, but as an opportunity to teach and help us all better learn to “encourage one another—and all the more as
you see the Day approaching. (Heb. 10:25)”

Friday, June 18, 2010


Austine Vimba was an older, quiet, unassuming man. Or so I thought…

I met Austine my first day at IBC (now Heritage Christian University). We had two classes together. I came to discover that Austine was from Zimbabwe and was formerly a Zulu warrior. It didn’t seem possible. This man was one of the most soft-spoken and calm men I had ever met. Or so I thought…

Every semester, students were (and still are) required to go on an evangelistic campaign. Regina and I were scheduled to go to Vidalia, Georgia: home of the sweet onion. Austine was also scheduled to go on this campaign.

Each morning, we had a devotional period and one of the students would share a short sermon to prepare us for the day. Monday morning, our speaker was Austine. As he got up to speak, he was very quiet. I was sleepy that morning and thought it was going to be tough to stay awake with that soft of a voice speaking. Or so I thought…

About 5 minutes into his talk, after softly reading some scriptures, he said “so you can see from these readings that we are to GO TELL IT!!!!” Those three words came out of nowhere! I think some of the popcorn ceiling came loose in the little class room we were in. I have been to rock concerts with lesser volume! Regina literally jumped out of her seat, and she wasn’t the only one. The remainder of his talk was given at a similar volume. We were all kind of in shock.

And the end of his talk about the importance of sharing the message of Jesus, he quieted back down. He said, “Before I was a Christian, I was a warrior. And when we went into battle, we would sound out the battle cry. We would sound it out with passion and conviction. I would encourage us to do the same thing. Because the battle we are in ‘is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Eph. 6:12-13).’ So let us arm ourselves, and with passion, sound out our battle cry. Let us GO TELL IT!!!!”

I still remember that like it was yesterday. It was nearly 17 years ago. It was my first campaign. It was the first morning devotional of the week and it gave each and everyone of us the motivation we needed. We baptized 10 people that week! On Friday night when we were preparing to drive back home, Austine, in his quiet voice said “well men, we went and told it. And God brought the increase. Aren’t you glad we serve a God who keeps his promises?” Amen Brother Austine! Amen!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Most Hypocritical Thing I have Ever Written

I have something on my mind I want to say, but I have to be a hypocrite to say it.

I was listening to John Lauterbach speak on Wednesday night, and he said "sometimes we are so busy talking, we forget to listen." The fact is, we love to talk. We talk at work, we talk on our cell phones, we text, we get on Facebook and talk, we tweet so everybody can know what we had for dinner, and then we sit sown and write a blog so everyone can know our thoughts.

I sometimes get frustrated when teaching a Bible class when people have too many comments. I think, "Why do you want to talk so much? This is my turn to talk!!! Listen to me."

Many of you have probably seen the movie I Am Legend with Will Smith. The movie is about a terrible virus that wipes out 99% of the population and turns the rest into zombies. Will's character, Robert Neville, thinks he is all alone until he meets Anna. Anna tells him about a survivor's colony in Connecticut. When he asks her how she knows about it she says that God told her. She says, "Now that the world is quiet, if you will listen, you can hear God."

We are noisy aren't we? I mean, I'm being noisy right now! I'm using all these words to tell us that we need to take time in our lives to "disconnect" so we can connect to God. If we are doing all the talking, how can we ever hope to hear what God might be trying to tell us?

After you read this, turn off your computer and your cell phone and any other noise making device near you. Open your Bible to the psalms and pick one. Read it. Sit back and close your eyes for 10 minutes and listen. Just try it!

I'm gonna practice what I am preaching and shut up now...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is that you Holy Spirit?

For the past several weeks, I have been leading a group of about 40 interested Christians in a study on Experiencing the Holy Spirit. Besides the Bible, our primary text has been the book "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it.

Last night, we were talking about "Plugging into the Spirit's Power." At the beginning of class I showed a clip from Chan's DVD study resource for Forgotten God. In it, he told a story of a Pastor who felt like he heard the voice of God tell him to go to the beach. When he got there, he found a woman standing on a pier and felt that God was leading him to approach her. As the story progresses, she was planning on committing suicide, and he was able to stop her and lead her to a relationship with Jesus. Francis tells it better than I do but you get the point.

I was raised in a church where the Holy Spirit was rarely motioned except during the occasional baptism. So still to this day, when I hear stories of the Spirit's leading, I get skeptical. Now, undeniably there have been times in my own life that I have felt the Spirit's gentle (and not so gentle) nudging, but when I hear someone else's story I tend to question it. Could it be I am not as plugged into the spirit as I think I am?

What do we do with stories like that? How do we process it? How do we become more plugged in to the Spirit? How do we discern the Spirit's leading?

I had a mother and her 20ish daughter approach me last night and ask me, "How do I know if it is the Holy Spirit talking to me or just my own thoughts?" What a great question! I wish I knew the answer! But I gave them this to think about: Sometimes we may not know, but if the words that come into our head are within the parameters of God's word and God's will, and we do them, that will always be a good thing!

For example: Let's say you are sitting in a restaurant and your waitress seems troubled. You feel a nudging, almost a voice, telling you too tell her, "hey, I just feel like I needed to let you know that no matter what you are struggling with right now, God loves you." If it was the Spirit telling you to do that, then you obeyed the Spirit. If it was your own conscience, you have still done the right thing. It's never wrong to tell someone God loves them, right?

Sometimes I'm not sure we will ever know it it was the Holy Spirit that led us a certain direction, but if the journey led us closer to God, the it was the right thing to do.

What's my point? Be open to the Spirit's leading. Be obedient to what God would have us to do. And when you feel like God is leading you in a certain direction, if it matches the principles of his word, GO! Obedience will never lead you to the wrong place.

(If you want to see a clip of the DVD I mentioned, go to

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pepperdine Highlights and Memories

I took many things away from a wonderful week in Malibu. One thing I took with me was the need to start blogging again, so here goes:

I believe I have attended the lectures 8 or 9 times now, and I can truly say that this was the best one yet. From the keynotes, to the worship, most of the classes I attended, and the many friends I got to see, I left fed and nurtured. It was a much needed week and I came back revived and renewed. It was great to have 28 from Lakeview attend this year.

Somethings I took away from the week that I plan to focus on over the coming weeks and months:

1) The absolute need for exellence in everything we do inside of our buildings. So often we just kinda wing it. Our assemblies serve as an entry point for many unchurched. What do they see? What do the feel? Tim Spivey likened a visit to many of our churches like a trip to Grandmas house. It's comfortable to Grandma; she likes it. But to a visitor, it may smell funny, the carpet doesn't match the curtains, and there are stacks of old newspapers everywhere. Our churches are comfortable to us, they are home. But what if you got an unchurched friend to come in and just give you their impressions? What would you find out?

2)The need for quality UPDATED websites. This may sound silly, but a recent Barna survey says that 40% of newcomers who walk in our door look for us on the web first. If our site in poor quality and out of date, that sends and negitive message about our church.

3)The importance of the Holy Spirit's leading. I could go all day on this. I don't talk about the Holy Spirit in my sermons as much as I should and I guess that is out of fear. But the fear will be pushed to the side and the gloves ate coming off. We cannot be the restored church without restoring the role of the Holy Spirit!

I suppose other things stood out to me as well and I will blog on them as soon as my tired mind gets some rest and I can remember more.

One of the highlights of the week was the classes I got to co-teach. Jim, Dennis and I had a small group, but I think the class was well recieved.

It was a joy to co-teach with my beautiful bride! I am blessed to have such a godly wife and she did a great job!

More later...