Lean Strong

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Strength and Weakness seem to be the complete opposite, yet throughout the Bible we find weakness being the stage upon which strength is placed on display.

At Greater Philadelphia Baptist, we have set our course on this theme- LEAN STRONG-finding strength in weakness.

In Proverbs 3:5-6 we find, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” The imperative we are given is to lean not on our own understanding. Our next step then is to consider God’s encouragement to us in Philippians 4:13 that classic passage of imminent strength from Christ in all we do. The process however is where we often get caught. If we are not careful, we treat this thing of accessing Christ’s strength as merely an intellectual ascent–if I just learn more, read more, and increase my spiritual intellect, then I will be strong. Or we go to the other extreme and place the key to accessing Christ strength in the sole proprietorship of  just “believe and receive” kind of faith.

If Scripture is to be its own best commentary, where then does this strength from Christ and leaning upon Him intersect with our lives as followers of Him?
… in our weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
When it comes to needing strength for every day, how can we find Christ strength for every need? It begins with acknowledging three truths-

Jesus Grace is Enough. Because His grace is enough, before I ever make a decision, I can have hope for the future to be bright and His promises true.

Many times, I jump to fast to the conclusion that the world is over, I’m never going to make it and I may as well throw in the towel now. But before I start throwing anything, I ask myself to HALT.

I have a series of questions to determine if I indeed need to “faint in the day of adversity” or “do all things through Christ”. I ask myself to HALT-

Am I …?1. Hungry- food can dramatically change the landscape for people. Sometimes we’ve been so busy running from here to there and everywhere that we need food to sustain us. When Elijah ran from Mt. Carmel from Ahab and wanted to die, one of the prescriptions was for him to eat.

2. Angry- losing your cool can cause even the most mild mannered Dr. Bruce Banner to morph into an incredible beast out of control. The last thing I need to do when I’m am upset is to make a life changing decision.

3. Lonely- Milton said it best when he wrote, “No man is an island.” While we would all love to have Johnny Depp saddle up next to us in his Tonto get-up and ride off into the west as the Lone Ranger-the truth is the Lone Ranger did have Tonto- and Silver for those who are animal lovers. We need people. God said for Adam in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone. That was not only for female companionship but I believe the relationships that he would one day have with his sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters. Proverbs 18:1 states that a man who isolates himself rages (pushes against) all wise judgment (aka- loneliness can lead to irrationality). Getting perspective from someone else can make a world of difference.

4. Tired- Sleep deprivation as well as pain can make otherwise normal, socially well adjusted people do dumb stuff. We may be depressed, feeling the world is totally out to get us, and even our pets steer clear. We can address the situation with Scripture and look at it from a spiritual, biblical perspective and set up counseling sessions to get out of our rut. But when you we you have a caffeine headache, you can read Scripture, beg God to take it away, fast it off, or bang your head against a brick wall. OR go get a cup of coffee. With that in mind, get some sleep. There will always be more emails to catch up on, twitter accounts to read, friends’ pics to like and so on. Getting rest is God natural wiring for you and I to recharge our cells, so the batter can power up for another day of wear and tear.

Sometimes the best way to LEAN Strong is to HALT.

How about you? When you find yourself getting to the point of exhaustion, what do you find is your Strength from Christ? How do you LEAN Strong?

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Renewed Hope

Some of the greatest challenges you’ll ever face are those of making life changing decisions not just for yourself, but for your family and ultimately as a church planter for your church family. So some thoughts for you current and future church planters out there. When I wonder what to do or how to encourage myself, one of the exercises I do is to imagine what a 50-year old Matt Manney would tell a 30-year old Matt Manney.

1. This Too Shall Pass- what seems huge and insurmountable is going to be a drop in the bucket and of no account in 20 years from now. What will make it be of “no account” is how you will respond to those trials difficulties and testings. Will I allow God to have His perfect work or have to learn this lesson over and over again.

2. Enjoy it Now- what seems difficult, frustrating, and hoping for the bigger and better, will prove to drive you to long for these days of the early beginnings. I once heard a preacher say, “It doesn’t get any easier, but it does get better.” Something to look forward to. Things such as: enjoy the first year of the church, you’ll never have one ever again. So relish the moments, the quirks, and the disappointments. They are the stuff life is made of.

3. Perspective two workers were at the work site of the Sistine Chapel. When asked what they were doing, one stated that he was laying brick. The other stated that he was partaking of one of the greatest architectural endeavors of all time. You are not just knocking on doors, you are building a church. You are not just baby-sitting the kids, you are ministering to the ladies of the church by allowing your wife to lead the ladies night out. You are making a impact of a life time. You will see things and experience life from a vantage point few others will ever get a chance to look from.

4. Who is this For? At the end of the Harvest month, the Easter campaign, or the day of door knocking, when the notes are finally printed out and the power point has the final touches…few folks will thank you for knocking on your door. No one will comment on the classy design of the brochure or the attention to detail in the tract you design. Folks will leave their sermon handout in the pew, with the blanks not filled in. And you must always check your motives with this question am I called into this life of ministry for Power point and Photoshop or to obey God by fulfilling His calling on my life to serve and help people take one step closer to salvation, to maturity in Christ, to loving God with a passion that got you into this position as a pastor in the first place.
Never lose the love for what God has called you to!

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Church Planting 101- Part 2 the calling of a lifetime

What with men is impossible, with God is possible.

Sunday evening an event took place that is all too often overlooked and underestimated. As a young boy, I had witnessed and heard of the lore of “ordination councils” in which a man’s understanding of the Bible and doctrine where evaluated and challenged to truly find what that man believed.

On Friday April 15th (the day the that Lincoln was pronounced dead and the day the Titanic sank) was the evaluation day from 9 am until 12:30 pm. What took place during those 3 1/2 hours was just “icing on the cake” as Pastor Wendal had mentioned that morning. It was a revelation of what was already implanted in a heart.

In Acts 13, we find the church officially laying hands on Barnabas and Saul/Paul for the work of the ministry. Amazing to see that two thousand years later the same biblical practice continues on. There truly is nothing more fulfilling or enjoyable than for my wife and I along with our kids to live out what “God hath before ordained”. I would have never imagined in my wildest of dreams that I would be a pastor at age 28 and preparing to head to the suburbs of Philadelphia. We wait with great expectation and excitement for all that God has in store for us next.

Our greatest and most sobering thought is that as God has clearly revealed His will, as God has blessed beyond imagine, and provided exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think- we wonder why? What does He have planned for us? The only answer is that the task before us will require a faith and trust in God that prior to this point in time we have not see or been exposed to. God has been busy in His workshop chiseling and in the classroom teaching for this next stage of ministry. By His grace, guidance, and goodness the greater Philadelphia region will know without doubt that there is a God in heaven!

Posted in Church Planting 101

Church Planting 101- Part 1 The nuts and bolts of preparation

As we have begun the process of planting Greater Philadelphia Baptist Church, I’ve looked over and over websites and books for a concise “how-to” on the process of getting the ball rolling. Lots of good stuff out there, but most of it is philosophy and methodology not necessarily resources. One thing I see is that a strong characteristic of church planter’s is a spirit of being a “self-starter”.

Here are some quick resources I’ve used and come across that have helped. Over the next several months we’ll add to this series of blog posts with particulars for each step.

Web design- wordpress.org with a theme from pagelines.com.

Web hosting- godaddy.com

Video- vimeo.com

Financial/Legal forms- legalzoom.com

Graphic design- Adobe Creative Suites (any suite- I’m currently working off of CS3 for Photoshop/Illustrator and CS2 for InDesign) adobe.com *I’d recommend shopping for prices. Amazon is a good place to start.

Power Point Ideas- gracewaymedia.com

Video- definitely a guy to follow Andrew Garcia- secondmilemedia.org. Gave great advice on equipment and set-up for our church plant video.

Brochures- customized- uprinting.com; best prices- gotprint.com best customer service- psprint.com

Banners- postupstands.com

Display- groupimaging.com

Picture Displays- mpix.com for our family picture on display at our table. We used an 8 x 12 standout.

Church Database Software- just met Steve Allinson who owns and developed Shining Light Technologies. 1 free year for church plants. We have looked at several database systems and found this to be the most cost-effective and versatile to meet our needs. This is a picture of the missions center at Faith Baptist of Fairless Hills, PA. Incredible touch screen technology that puts the missionaries right at your finger tips.

These are most of the resources we have used in preparing for the role out of the church in September. We’ll have more specifics on these is the coming months.

Posted in Church Planting 101

Dream Big Dreams

As we are in the midst of planning, praying, and preparing for the biggest step of our lives, I can’t help but think about the thoughts going through my head as a little kid. I can remember it like yesterday. It was Thanksgiving day and my folks had loaded us up in the family station wagon to head down to Philadelphia. We were on our way to a soup kitchen to feed the homeless for Thanksgiving.

The curiosity and wonder that filled my head also made room for fears and discomfort. I was definitely out of my comfort zone as we stopped at a light and there right next to my window was a guy selling “Philly” pretzels. A little too close for comfort.

I fast forward to my college days when I began to realize that in God’s economy, He takes our fears and places us right in the thick of them. He takes our weaknesses and exposes them. He emphasizes the disabilities to reveal His miraculous abilities. He showed that He calms the fears and He is strong where I’m weak. All of this is done in an effort to convince me that life is not about me, up to me, or because of me. It is all about God, up to God, and because of God.

So again, we fast forward to the present. God is sending us to a community just outside of Philadelphia. The place once feared would now become our home, our place of work, our place of worship, our city. Isn’t it amazing how God’s economy works?

We have hundreds of thousands we will work with, minister to, share the gospel with, cry with, rejoice with, worship with and establish churches with, all for the glory of God. This is a task far beyond my human comprehension and my ability. I know me, but I also know my God. And so the ethereal, seemingly intangible dreams of yester-year are becoming the reality of a great God who has an immense heart to see the people of Clifton Heights and greater Philadelphia come to know His Son as their Savior.

God has opened a door for us to begin working with families and make several profitable contacts in the area, and we haven’t even begun deputation! Our prayer is for 10 saved and committed families from the greater Philadelphia area to be ready to go on the opening day in September. God has answered with one family already. Now we continue to pray for the next nine!

Posted in Church Planting 101

A Great Need

We recently were able to get some general demographic numbers for the area. The five mile radius around the location we are currently considering is extremely dense. These are some of the statistics we have found.
1 mile radius- population 25,000/households 10,000
3 mile radius- population 225,000/households 80,000
5 mile radius- population 500,000/households 200,000

A great and effectual door has been opened. Pray as we continue to narrow down the possibilities for a meeting location.

Posted in Church Planting 101

Beginning the Journey

We have finally narrowed down the search for a location and a name for the church.

Now we are in the next step of printing support letters and prayer cards.

Posted in Church Planting 101