Poetry Saturday—The Red Flannel Clergy Group

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

(A little background for this poem. I live in Cedar Springs, MI, which has been called the Red Flannel Town for years because of the one-piece red flannel long undearwear which was manufactured here. Cedar Springs is also home to one of the most amazing ministerial groups I have ever had the privilege of working with.)

There was a group of clergy from a Red Flannel town
and one of their goals was to lift up people who were down.

And so together in word and deed
bringing people closer to Jesus they did lead.

They worked together even cross-denominationally
and through their partnership, they were as happy as can be!

They were a wonderful and fantastic Christ-centered group
discussing ministry matters monthly over pizza or sometimes soup.

Through laughter, hard work and sometimes even a shed tear
they supported each other and proclaimed the Gospel for all to hear.

The town may have been noted for its Red Flannel zeal,
but it was the work of the clergy that was its greatest appeal. —Rev. Jim Alblas

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Links & Quotes

In 1 Timothy 3:1, Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop [overseer], he desires a good work.” T.M. Moore commented on this verse—

“The Greek word for ‘bishop’ translates literally to ‘overseer.’ Overseers—pastors, elders, anyone in a leadership role in the congregation—is charged with watching over the souls of God’s people for good (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 20:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). While the primary duty of watching over the Lord’s flock falls on pastors and elders, all who serve with them function in a role of overseeing, that all the members of the congregation might benefit from the continuous care and shepherding of those who lead them.”

I am so grateful for T.M.’s endorsement of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter in which I expound more on this 1 Timothy verse, and talk about how shepherd leaders should be raising up more leaders around them.

Our church purchased a building to use as our new homebase for ministry in our city. I am super excited about the possibilities!

Tiny bacteria declare loudly the genius of the Creator. This new study on the ability of bacterium to protect its own DNA from mutations is fascinating!

Dan Reiland says, “Good character takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.” Dan shares 5 practices that build leadership character to last for a lifetime.

Amenhotep I was the second pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, and ruled from ca 1525-1504 BC during the time the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Using 3-D CT scans, Amenhotep has been unwrapped for the first time in over 3000 years!

How are you supposed to follow God when obedience feels impossible? John Piper explains in this post

A Safe Place For Mistakes

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Josh had just graduated from high school when I came to pastor in Cedar Springs. As I sat with this outstanding young man I asked him what he wanted to do next. 

“I’m not exactly sure,” he told me, “but I really feel like it’s something involved with ministry.” 

“Great!” I responded. “Let’s start experimenting.” 

I told Josh that our church was going to be a safe place to experiment: to plan new things, to try new things, to prayerfully evaluate the results, and then to use those results to plan new things. Josh jumped in right away, and over a short period of time we were eventually able to ascertain just how God had wired Josh for his niche of ministry. 

But this would have never happened without some missteps along the way. 

That’s okay. 

Leaders need to create an environment where it’s safe to make mistakes, because mistakes are a vital component of learning. 

My wife is a 3rd Grade teacher. A bulletin board in her classroom lovingly tells her students, “Our classroom is a safe place to make mistakes,” and then she gives them the keys to their successful learning. 

Leaders can help those around them grow through their mistakes by constantly reinforcing these six principles: 

  1. When someone complains, “This is too hard,” remind them, “This may take some time and effort.” 
  2. When someone says, “I’m not good at this,” prompt them to ask, “What am I missing?” and then encourage them to add, “I’m not good at this yet.” 
  3. When someone wants to settle with, “It’s good enough,” challenge them to ask themselves, “Have I given this my best effort?” 
  4. When someone wants to throw in the towel by saying, “I made a mistake,” remind them, “I failed is not the same thing as I am a failure,” and then remind them, “Mistakes help me learn.” 
  5. When someone is exasperated and says, “I give up,” come alongside them with, “Let’s try a strategy we’ve already learned.” 
  6. When someone says, “I can’t do this,” you need to lovingly encourage them with, “You can do this!” 

These responses will help foster an abundance-mindset environment where people aren’t defeated by their mistakes, but they’re energized to reengage and try again. As the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison quipped, “I’ve had a lot of success with failure.” 

Leaders, let’s make our spaces the safest places for the mistakes that lead to discovery, growth, and success. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Sanctity Of Human Life Sunday

We are blessed to have such an excellent pregnancy resource center in Cedar Springs. Alpha Family Center is a loving place to help families through some of the challenges of raising and caring for a family.

Calvary Assembly of God actively supports Alpha, and we invite you to join us in this.

Meet & Greet and Book Signing

I’m going to be discussing the writing process of my book and then answering some questions folks may have about Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

I would be honored if you can join me on Monday, November 1, at the Cedar Springs Library.

There will be refreshments, a Q&A time, books for sale, and I will be autographing books too!

Simple Christianity

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

What does it mean to be a Christian? Or maybe I should ask it this way: what do Christians do to show that they are indeed a Christian?

Lots of people have come up with must-do and must-not-do lists, but is this the way Jesus lived? 

I love the simple summary of the life of Jesus that Peter gave: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). Jesus was so overflowing with love and the Holy Spirit that He couldn’t help but make a difference wherever He went. 

It’s simple, but not easy. Look at how people lashed out at Jesus even while He was healing, teaching, loving, and forgiving. 

Or what about the simple description Jesus gave of an activity that brought applause from our Master: “You saw someone who was hungry and you fed him” (see Matthew 25:34-40). 

Simple, but not easy. Look at the logistical challenges in buying food, preparing it, and getting it to those who are indeed hungry. 

The churches of the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association are trying to live out this simple Christianity through our weekend food program. Nearly half of the students in our school district are eligible for free or reduced meals, which means they are having breakfast and lunch provided to them at school Monday through Friday. 

That also means that they are in need of food on the weekends. This is where our churches step in. We provide healthy breakfast, snack, and dinner items for these students to eat during the weekend. 

It’s simple, but it’s not easy. 

We need lots of help—from food and financial donations, to shoppers, to shelf stockers, to small teams who prepare breakfast and snack packs, to larger teams who assemble the whole weekend’s supply, to those who deliver the food to the school buildings. There are so many places to get involved. 

If you live in West Michigan, would you please help us? We have set up a separate website to keep people updated on current food needs and volunteer opportunities. We also have a link for online financial gifts. If you would like to make a recurring donation, just $20 per month will provide healthy food for a student for the whole month. Whatever you can do with your time or financial support will be a blessing to so many! 

Let’s take advantage of this simple way to show the love of Jesus to these families in our community.

Feeding Hungry Kids

Some of the volunteers that help us week after week

It was a snowy day in West Michigan. So snowy, in fact, that schools had been canceled for the day. While many people were bundled up at home, the local police department was responding to a call of an alarm that had been tripped at an elementary building. When the police arrived they found a young body going to each door attempting to get inside his school. When the police officer asked him what he was doing, the young lad looked at him innocently and said, “This is where I get breakfast.” 

Sometimes we forget how many of our students get at least one or two meals at their school each day. In my community, 49 percent of Cedar Springs students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. So our churches decided to do something about this. The Cedar Springs Ministerial Association has organized teams to provide nutritious food for hungry students to eat on the weekends. 

Someone once asked me, “Before agreeing to get this program started in our city, did you pray about it?” 

“No,” I quickly responded. “I didn’t need to pray about it because I knew Jesus had already said, ‘If you see someone hungry, feed them.’” 

Our program is currently serving 200 students each week!

Think about that—without the generous and faithful support of so many volunteers and donors, 200 students in Cedar Springs would be going without adequate food each weekend. 

Would you consider helping us? 

We have set up a separate website to keep people updated on the current food and volunteering opportunities. We also have a link for online financial gifts. If you would like to make a recurring donation, just $20 per month will provide healthy food for a student for the whole month. Whatever you can do with your time or financial support will be a blessing to so many!

Honoring Veterans The Right Way [repost]

Disclaimer: I’m a patriotic crier. I love the United States of America, and proudly call her the greatest nation in history. So whenever I watch a patriotic movie, or serve at a veteran’s funeral, or even sing the national anthem before a Cedar Springs football game, I get misty.

I believe we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our veterans. But I also believe we may not be honoring that debt in the right way.

We usually honor our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have given “their last full measure of devotion” by playing taps at their funeral, firing a 21-gun salute, or even putting a flag in the sacred ground of their burial site every year at Memorial Day.

But what about our vets who are still living? Don’t they deserve more than just an occasional visit on Veterans Day?

In many ways, we treat Veterans Day like we do Thanksgiving Day: it’s just one day on our calendar to take care of our obligations to be grateful, and then we can continue on with business-as-usual until the next year.

Wouldn’t it be more fitting for us to treat Veterans Day—like Thanksgiving Day—as a culmination of another year full of gratitude? After all, it’s very likely that we wouldn’t even be able to enjoy our business-as-usual lives if it were not for the sacrifices of our veterans.

The Apostle Paul gives us a good pattern to follow. Four times in his letters he says, “I thank God for you every time I remember you” (Romans 1:9; Philippians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 4). In these times of thanks, he is remembering others who put their lives on the line for freedom, just as our veterans have done for us.

Here are at least three things we can learn from Paul’s thankfulness to apply to our gratitude for our veterans —

  1. Keep mementos of remembrance around you. Perhaps it’s an American flag, or a picture, or a Veterans Day program. Simply find something that will jog your memory frequently about the debt of gratitude we owe to our vets.
  2. Pray for our veterans. Paul often told his friends that when he was filled with thoughts of gratitude about them, he turned those thoughts into prayers for them.
  3. Turn your feelings into actions. When you see one of your mementos and say a prayer for a veteran, take it a step further. Jot a note to a vet, send an email, send flowers, or take them out to lunch. Perhaps you could invite a veteran into your home for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter, or “adopt” a veteran on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

The point is this: Let’s not make honoring our veterans something we only do on November 11. Let’s remember them often, be thankful for them always, and turn those thoughts and gratitude into action all year long.

Living Nativity (2016)

I am so happy that our church gets the opportunity to present the First Advent story to the Cedar Springs community each year!

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Lifewalk 2016

 

2016 LifeWalkAlpha Family Center provides some amazing services for families in Cedar Springs. Every year on the Saturday before Father’s Day they hold their annual Lifewalk fundraiser.

I would be most appreciative if you would consider giving a financial gift to support Alpha. You can donate via PayPal by clicking on the “Donate” tab to the right of this post. I promise you that all of the money you give will go toward promoting pro-life and pro-family work in Cedar Springs.

Thank you!

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