What does this make possible?

Sometimes letting go opens new doors.

Letting go is hard.

It really doesn’t matter what you’re releasing—a project, a dream, an aspiration, an opportunity—letting go always involves a loss of some kind, and every loss results in a certain measure of grief.

Recently – within just a few minutes’ time – I decided to let go of two things that are special to me.  One of them has been a significant part of my life for almost three years.  I launched a podcast, Your Church Matters,” in January 2015. The most recent episode was Season 3 Episode 110.  I have poured into this project my heart and soul, my best encouragement, and my best practical wisdom gained over the course of almost 30 years of full-time ministry (and 40 total ministry years).  Much of that practical wisdom has been gained through making mistakes that I hope to help others avoid.

But it has become clear to me over the past few weeks that this season of my life requires that I devote to other endeavors the energy and time needed to create and produce a weekly podcast.  So, those 110 episodes will be available at drgerrylewis.com/yourchurchmatters but no more will be added.  I still think podcasting is in my future, but not for the rest of 2017 and not in the same format.

I think I have actually known for a while, but I’ve been resisting it.  It feels like failure.  It feels like losing part of me.  It feels like abandoning one of my children.  And I’m grieving the loss.

The second thing I released was an opportunity to do something that I really wanted to do, that I knew I would enjoy doing, and that I knew would be a blessing to other people. Fortunately, I had not yet agreed to do it.  If that had been the case, releasing would not have been an option.  If people can’t depend on me to keep my word, then my word means nothing.

So, in this case, the grief was different.  But it’s still hard.

Have you ever been there, friends? You feel overwhelmed, depleted, too many spinning plates and balls in the air, too many requests and opportunities, too much pride to admit that you can’t do everything, too many people depending on you.  And through it all, you are measuring your worth by how much you can get done, trying to prove yourself through achievement, addicted to adrenaline, driven by the need for approval or acquisition, running like a hamster on a wheel and getting nowhere.

Or is it just me?

Here’s the question I’m focusing on today: What does this make possible? I’ve already focused on the loss.  But, what might I gain?  Who, besides me, may benefit from my shift in focus? How may God use this to teach me more of what it is like to walk with Jesus? What’s truly important right now?

 

What's truly important right now? Click To Tweet

 

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Your one and only life matters to God.  What does that make possible?

109 – What I learned about church from “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” [Podcast]

A foodie's take on why someone would want to come to your church

 

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcastIn this week’s episode, I’m sharing some reflections from one of my favorite TV shows – Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network. I’ve had a lot of conversations with church leaders who asked, “Why aren’t people coming to our church?”  It occurs to me that we need to be asking, “Why would anyone come to our church?”

I think we can learn something from the restaurants featured on DDD.

 

 

Top 5 Lessons for Churches from DDD

  1. The Restaurants featured on DDD are not trying to be like any other restaurant.  They have found their unique voice in the community.
  2. The Restaurants featured on DDD focus on great food in a welcoming atmosphere.
  3. The Restaurants featured on DDD are not afraid to try something new. In fact, they are always creating.
  4. The Restaurants featured on DDD are neighborhood hangouts. (Unless they are food trucks. In that case, they take the hangout to where the people are).
  5. The Restaurants featured on DDD let their patrons be their voice.  Often, Guy Fieri checks a place out because he got an email from a regular customer.  (Here’s the email address: storyideas@tripledinfo.com)

Here’s the iPhone DDD locator app I use.

Questions for Churches

  1. Have we found our unique voice in our community or are we trying to (A) be a copy of another church or (B) fit into the mold of our “chain” (denomination, etc)?
  2. Are we trying to do too many things to the detriment of clear Biblical teaching and true Biblical fellowship? When people come the first time, are they welcomed as friends and fed a delicious spiritual meal?
  3. Are we settled into a rut, or are we constantly evaluating the quality of our ministries and seeking to enhance them?
  4. How are we engaging our neighborhood?  What are people outside the church saying about us?  Are we making “hangout” connections?
  5. What are our members saying about us?  Are they enthusiastically inviting their friends and neighbors?

 

What I loved about the church where I worshiped last Sunday

Church: FBC Newark (Texas)

What I loved:

  • Teenagers on the platform
  • Family atmosphere after the service

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

1. Comment section below

2. Email: contactgerrylewis@gmail.com

3. Voicemail: 817-929-0643

4. Direct tweet @drgerrylewis

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music for intro)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music for outro)

MY NEW BOOK IS FREE ON AMAZON TODAY ONLY

JUNE 18

3D JPEG

FREE DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON ON JUNE 18

What readers are saying:

Glen A. Kersey – Dr. Lewis has provided a timely and passionate resource that touches the issue that is near and dear to every pastor’s heart: leading believers in Christ to become followers (which requires action) of Christ. In this book, he advocates a change of perspective in our approach to “Bible Study.” Dr. Lewis challenges us, with wit and wisdom, to see our times together with the Bible as intentional/accountable/purpose-filled opportunities in our disciple-becoming/disciple-making adventure with Christ. This will be a great training resource; and I see it as a very beneficial “Bible study” that I will be using with my leaders very soon.
Thank you for sharing your heart, Gerry.

Stan MooreThis is a great book that should be in every pastor’s toolbox. Gerry Lewis has provided practical wisdom and spiritual common sense that would strengthen any discipleship and bible study program. I encourage you to get this book, read it, and use it for God’s glory to disciple the saints in your congregation.

James Herman“Why Bible Study Doesn’t Work” diagnoses the one of the biggest failures in evangelical churches today: people are learning more about Jesus, but they are failing to become more like Him. Dr. Lewis starts with the purposes of Bible Study, and then he explains how churches have gotten off-track in their methods for Bible Study groups. He concludes with a specific method for effective Bible study. This is a great read for any Pastor, church worker, or church member who wants their church to grow closer to God.

 

BUY NOW

NEW BOOK FREE FROM AMAZON FOR TWO DAYS ONLY!

June 17-18

3D JPEG

FREE AT AMAZON JUNE 17-18

 

When did Bible Study become the broccoli of the Christian life?

Eat more broccoli!  It’s good for you!  Study the Bible more… attend more “Bible studies!”  It’s good for you!

Shouldn’t studying the Bible be more than simply something that is good for us?  Shouldn’t studying the Bible together with other followers of Jesus actually strengthen us for a healthy lifestyle of following Jesus on the journey of the Christ-life?  Did we miss a turn somewhere?

Let me ask you a question.  If more (or better) Bible studies is really the answer, how in the world do we have so many people who:

•  Have gone to Sunday School for decades
•  Have attended, helped in, and taught Vacation Bible School
•  Have participated in multiple 13-week or 40-day video-based Bible study courses
•  And are Biblically illiterate and don’t have any idea how to think or live Biblically?

It seems that we have a disconnect somewhere.

I’d like to offer, in this brief book, a way of rethinking Bible study.  A way that refocuses studying the Bible with the intent of making disciples.  A way that emphasizes not just the “what” of Bible study, but also the “how” and the “why” of studying the Bible.

BUY NOW

051 – How washing dishes changed my life. [Podcast]

The secret benefit of simple, powerful habits

washing dishes

 

Welcome to Season 2 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode (51), I told a story of an amazing insight I got from a newly chosen habit: washing dishes.

 

 

Actually, the habit is not simply washing dishes.  My newly chosen habit is washing dishes every night before going to bed.  It was inspired by reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  I mentioned some of my thinking on that in Episode 43: What are keystone habits and why should we have them?

Ever since completing that book and doing that podcast, I’ve been thinking about habits.  So a couple of months ago, I asked myself, “What is the absolutely easiest habit I could start with?”  I happened to be walking by a sink full of dirty dishes at the time and I was inspired to ask, “What if I did not allow myself to go to bed each night as long as there are dirty dishes in the kitchen?”  I started that night and have only missed two nights since.

So, what does this have to do with the church?  I’m going to get to that, so stick with me.  First, you have to understand the significance of dish washing for me.

 

My history with dish washing

  • When we were growing up, my younger brother and I were required to wash dishes.
  • Neither of us have treasured that memory, nor have we embraced dish washing.
  • The first Christmas present I ever gave my wife was a portable dishwasher
  • I love to cook, but I HATE washing dishes!
  • Because of my wife’s disability, the household chores belong to me (now that we are empty-nesters).
  • In case I forgot to mention, I HATE washing dishes!

 

The benefits of my newly chosen habit of dish washing

  • I am blessing my wife.
  • It is one of the easiest things I do if I do it daily (usually no more than 5 minutes).
  • I don’t have to do a panic dish washing if guests are coming.
  • I have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when I look at a clean and uncluttered sink.

 

And the Number One benefit: How I feel when I walk into my kitchen each morning.

That may sound completely self-centered, but here’s the truth: I am energized and focused on my morning time with God because I am not met with and distracted by dirty dishes.  A simple act at the end of one day increases my effectiveness at the beginning of the next day.

 

Implications for the church

  • We should not confuse what we do (methods) with who we are (message).   I am not a dishwasher.  I am a Christ-following husband who washes dishes.  Don’t let your church’s methods define you.  Your identity is a local group of Christ-followers focused on glorifying God and making disciples in your unique context.
  • Our methods should serve our message.  My goal in life is not to have a clean and uncluttered sink.  The clean and uncluttered sink contributes to my focus on what really matters. Choose methods that contribute to your focus.  Scrap methods that distract from it.
  • We often devise methods that are too complicated or too ambitious.  I don’t clean and sanitize the entire house every day.  In fact, I pay someone to come and give my house a good cleaning every other week.  That way, I can give primary focus to the things that I do best and are most important.  Your church doesn’t need more complexity of structure and activity.  You need more clarity of focus.
  • We often fail to recognize the momentum that can be generated by small wins.  I’m already thinking about the next small habit that I can embrace.  If dish washing can make this much difference, I can only imagine what’s next!

 

So, what’s the simplest and easiest to implement habit that you could embrace in your church to eliminate distractions and help you focus on what matters most?

 

To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

1. Comment section below

2. Email: contactgerrylewis@gmail.com

3. Voicemail: 817-929-0643

4. Direct tweet @drgerrylewis

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

 

Has the FORCE awakened in you?

I'm in search of spiritual Jedi

has the force awakened

 

Where were you on December 18, 2015?  Were you in line with costumed nerds waiting for The Force to awaken?  Do you have any idea what I’m talking about?

Yes, I am a Star Wars fan.  No, I did not dress in costume.  No, I did not wait in line.  In fact, I didn’t even see the new movie until December 29, 11 whole days after it came out!

I even have to admit that I slept through part of the movie, not because it was boring, but because it’s what I do if I’m in a dark room and a semi-reclined chair at 4:00 in the afternoon.  My kids will tell you that I have missed a few moments of some of my all-time favorite movies.  That’s why I usually wait until I can see them at home: so I can hit “pause” when I’m sleepy, thirsty, need to use the restroom, etc.

There was something else that happened on December 18 that was much more important to me.  I launched a new book.  Actually, it is a book that I had previously written, but I bought back the publishing rights and released a revised and updated version on December 18.

Why would I choose a launch day when all the attention was on the new Star Wars movie?  Because it is a book on Christian living with a Star Wars theme.  I actually began writing the first version when the previous movie came out.

“Culture Wars: In search of spiritual Jedi” is not a book of science fiction, but of the reality that we need a different approach if we are ever going to see true cultural transformation.  A quote from the book may help explain that:

“What we need to help transform this culture are some Christians who take the Jedi approach to life from a purely Christian perspective—their spiritual loyalties, their service, their interdependence, their humility—all driven by their total surrender to Jesus Christ.”

To my fellow Christ-followers, I say that our battle is not AGAINST the culture, but FOR the culture.  Our lightsaber of truth is the Bible.  The Holy Spirit is The Force at work in us.  I said it this way in the book:

“This book is issued as a challenge: A challenge to be unsatisfied with cultural capitulation.  A challenge to love God more than we love the culture.  A challenge to love the culture too much to hand it over to the enemy. A challenge to become spiritual Jedi—entering the battle for the culture, wielding the lightsaber of truth under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit.”

 

To my fellow Christ-followers, I say our battle is not AGAINST the culture, but FOR the culture. Click To Tweet

 

The problems in our culture are not “out there.”  I am the problem.

When I lose my focus, I will surrender to the Dark Side.  Every time.  I’m looking for some fellow Jedi who are convinced that our culture matters to God.

Will you join me?

Click here for more information

On God’s Back Porch

Join my subscriber list and gain a new perspective on God's will

When you think about God’s will, are you …

 

Frustrated?

Anxious?

Confused?

Guilty?

It shouldn’t be that way.  God’s will is much more about who we are becoming than what we are doing.  I’ve written a short eBook to help you enjoy and rest in God’s will even if you are unclear about specific directions.

You can’t buy this book anywhere.  But you can get it for free by joining my subscriber list.  I’ll send you an email whenever I post fresh content or when I have a new resource available.  I’ll never spam you or share your info with anyone else.

All I ask for is your first name and email address in the signup area on the right side of this page.  That’s it.  No muss.  No fuss.  You will get your download instructions via email.

I’d love to have you join my community sharing this journey.

Don’t wait.  Sign up today.

027 – What if? [Podcast]

A challenge to the larger community of faith

Designed on canva.com

Welcome to Season 1 Episode 27 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  I am recording and scheduling this episode in advance because of an upcoming “guy trip” with my boys (my favorite son and my favorite son-in-law).  We will be on the road when this publishes.

In this episode, I am sharing a recording of my keynote address at the National Day of Prayer Luncheon in my hometown of Azle, TX on May 7, 2015.  I believe it is a message for all churches and I saved the recording especially for use during this vacation time.

 

 

Keith Getty (In Christ Alone) quoted Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian, NYC) … every generation has had struggles, disappointments, difficulties, even persecution … The difference is that we are the most narcissistic generation in history.

Why do we need a National Day of Prayer?  To call us to refocus … If we do not guard against it, our narcissism will allow this day to be turned into something that is about our desires and benefit rather than God’s purposes … So I want to engage in a game of “What if” and ask 4 questions that hopefully can help us focus beyond ourselves.

 

1. What if we had less politics and more prayer?

  • Prayer changes things … What it changes most is the one who is praying … Aligns our hearts with the heart of God … Reminds us that God does not take sides, He is a side.

 

  • You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

 

  • I am not opposed to the political process … I am opposed to the idea that we can transform our culture by political means … I am opposed to the idea of a “Christianized” culture that truly only results in “culturized” Christians … Should the goal of our prayers be that things change so we can “have it our way” or that God will glorify Himself in the way we respond when we don’t have it our way?
2. What if we had less smugness and more service?
  • One of the reasons I am asking questions today is based on a profound truth: I don’t have all the answers … I am a recovering “answer man” … In fact, if we had the time today, I’d rather ask my questions and facilitate a time of group processing that allows us to learn from each other and draws out the great wisdom and vision that is present in this room.

 

  • There is a certain smugness that accompanies those who think it is their job to do all the talking and none of the listening and it is particularly unattractive when they speak on God’s behalf.

 

  • “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

 

  • The old adage is true: they do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.

 

  • “We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions— but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.” (1 Corinthians 8:2-3, Msg)
3. What if we had less competition and more cooperation?
  • I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” ( John 17:20-21)

 

  • By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

 

  • One of the most powerful witnesses we give as a deterrent to the gospel is a fractured church … Our labels are virtually meaningless to the uninitiated … Sometimes the most powerful witness we have as a faith community is when we do something together and the only label is one of unity … We have legitimate differences … But most of those should be “in house” discussions … When we carry those into the street and encourage people to choose which one of us to follow, we actually run the risk of discouraging them from following Jesus … I believe, with all that is within me, if we will focus on the kingdom of God and the exaltation of Jesus, He will take care of our individual congregations.

 

  • My favorite New Testament metaphor for the church is the Body of Christ … The visible representation of Jesus in the world … Our individual congregations cannot be the body in isolation from one another.
4. What if we had less criticism and more compassion?
  • We have increasingly become a culture of whiners who are known for what what are against … And in a our narcissism, we think the world is interested our whining so we share it on social media

 

  • Lord, help us to see the world through the eyes of Jesus.

 

  • “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)

5 Benefits of Thankfulness

Choose an attitude. Frame a lifestyle.

Designed on Canva.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know what you’re thinking. The boy has lost his mind.  Maybe the sudden change from all that cool, wet weather to upper 90’s has boiled his brain.  It’s the middle of June, for crying out loud!  Turkey, pumpkin pie, and football are 5 months away!

Well, my friends, when I say “Happy Thanksgiving,” I’m talking about choosing an attitude, not celebrating a day.  This attitude that can result in a lifestyle.  One of my friends greets people every day with, “Happy Tuesday,” (or whatever day it is).  That greeting always lifts my spirits.

Some of you know that I launched a podcast ( click here to find out more about Your Church Matters) on January 1, 2015.  There have been a couple of times that the podcast has been based on something that I previously wrote in my column/blog. 

Today I am writing my column/blog based on one of my podcasts.  In last week’s episode (Take the 5 for 5 Thankfulness Challenge), I shared five benefits of Intentional Thankfulness.  I think those benefits are worth sharing with a different audience, so here they are.

Five Benefits of Intentional Thankfulness

1. Intentional thankfulness refocuses on what you have rather than what you lack.  We are constantly bombarded with the message that we would be happier if we only had more __________ (you fill in the blank).  The truth is that focusing on what we lack actually makes us more discontented.

2. Intentional thankfulness reminds us that everything  we have is a gift of God’s grace.  Even if we worked hard for it, the ability to work hard is a gift from God. That’s not a perspective that is universally agreed upon, but I draw great courage and energy knowing that I am not my own best resource.

3. Intentional thankfulness reframes temporary difficulties in light of eternal realities.  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Some of our troubles are seriously heavy until we compare them with the eternal glory of following Jesus.

4. Intentional thankfulness makes us more pleasant to be around. Think of a constant complainer you know.  Do you really look forward to spending time with that person? Misery loves company, but company does not love misery.

5. Intentional thankfulness elevates those around us.  Thankfulness is contagious. Choose to be a carrier.

I want to wrap this up today by thanking the person who delivered a wonderful hand-crafted gift to me at the newspaper office in appreciation for my writing.  I know you don’t want recognition, so I will honor that.  You know who you are and I am abundantly blessed and thankful.

Our lives matter to God, friends.  That should cause us great gratitude.

Maybe even enough for some pumpkin pie in June.

Question: How will you choose thankfulness today?