28 February 2006

doing ministry strategically

here's my notes i had prepared for a teaching i was going to do this morning (didn't actually do the class due to a scheduling problem - but that's okay).

doing ministry strategically

i really think i got some "rev" (as dino rizzo puts it) about strategy and planning for ministry. one huge factor is how we plan for the unplanned. how do interruptions to the plan fit into our overall strategy?

i'm posting it here mainly because, well, because i can. if it helps anyone, then that's really cool. if you do read thru it, lemme know what you think.

24 February 2006

think you're pretty smart, do you?

try this on for size. this puzzle is something my daughter found and initially it drove me nuts - wasted a bunch of time trying to figure it out.

warning: don't even start trying to work this puzzle if you don't have some free time - it's addictive until you resolve it.

tip: tori has posted some tips here if you need a kickstart.

japanese i.q. test (once you're at the puzzle page, click on the big blue circle to start it)

now how smart do you feel?

welcome home

i know it has to be more than just a sign - it has to be a passion. but i love this sign in the lobby at healing place church. whoever's idea it was is a genius. not just "welcome" but "welcome home" - how cool is that?

and it is our passion to make hpc a place where people can come and feel welcome in the same way they would going to their home. whether they are sons or daughters "living" at home or prodigals returning home... this is home - this is where they belong.

God, help us to live up to this sign's message. for the sake of the people you love who are looking for home in so many wrong places.

23 February 2006

amazingly huge opportunity for outreach

aley demarest (yeah, he's got a name - he's not just "elizabeth's husband") heads up a new thing for cucd ("church united for community development" - a group strongly supported by healing place church along with household of faith and louisiana family forum).

the new deal is something they're calling "step out" - a ministry to reach out to prisoners who are being released to help them return to society with a lot of support around them. it is funded by a grant, and aley is doing a great job with it. he's an incredible individual with a heart to do whatever it takes to get the job done - and his job as he sees it is getting people in a place where they have an opportunity to have a life-changing encounter with God. they've got a lot of opportunity to touch a lot of people who are being released from prison. what a great time to be there for people - to be there with the love of Christ and helping them establish themselves again, and to begin living the life God intended.

check out this press release for more info, or call aley (225.753.2273).

pray for aley and the rest of the team as the launch out into this. pray for them, and if you're in the baton rouge area, go ahead and ask God about whether He wants you to get involved. it just might be the place God has created for you to serve.

want a reality check?

read this post on my dad's blog. i've been on IM with him for the last 30 min or so - he's in swaziland right now where children's cup is working to make a difference in thousands of kids' lives (and adults, too).

he's got a lot of great posts - he's a great writer, so that's to be expected. but this post will be hard to just ignore.

22 February 2006

psalm 112 - verse 1

here are my notes from dino rizzo's teaching this morning at frank's. this was week 1 of a 10-week study going through psalm 112 verse-by-verse. 125 men were there at 6am - amazing enough right there. i was there. now we're talking "miracle!" anyway, check out the notes- and feel free to give some feedback if you want.

a blessed life is a righteous life

verse 1:
Praise the LORD! Happy are those who fear the LORD. Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what he commands.

1. praise to God
2. blessings of God
3. word of God

Praise the Lord!
powerful foundation of a blessed life. Praise is the starting point. moses at the red sea – needing a rescue. he gets the children of israel to start praising God before, during, and after the crossing. it is easy to praise once you’re on the other side. we have a tendency to wait for the outcome to start praising. we don’t need to wait. be thankful up front, before you see the change you’re looking for. and remember, praise is not limited to singing. praise is an attitude of the heart – a way we carry ourselves – it is a lifestyle. we do need to break out of our comfort zone and sing sometimes, but there’s WAY more to it. it is all about relationship.

blessed means "happy, fortunate, to be envied." God promises to bless us but much of the blessing depends on choices we make. deuteronomy 30: we have choices in front of us - life and death. choose life. how are you doing in 2006 with your choices? choose to live blessed. choices are like floods or rivers. floods damage. rivers carry you to new places.

making wise choices requires focus - getting your bearing. it takes discipline. you must see the big picture. the blessing of God is way beyond something just for you. it goes beyond your own consumption. genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you…. all the families of the earth shall be blessed by you." blessings TO you and blessings THRU you. realize WHY you are being blessed. God wants to bring it to you so that He can bring it through you to others. be contagious about the blessings of God in your life rather than being contagious about the burden of life. carry someone else’s burden rather than being someone’s burden. remember the blessings of God. when you see the blessings of God, you will stop complaining about stuff.

word of God
understand it. if you want Bible results you have to live Bible guidelines/rules. there are do’s and don’ts. there are boundaries. boundaries about parenting, finances, marriage, private life, sin, work…. if there were a bear trap in your back yard and you saw your kids running out the back door – as a parent wouldn’t you find it important to warn them not to go out there? the Bible is full of instructions that keep you from falling into a bear trap.

God wants things done a certain way. He didn’t just tell the israelites to throw up a tabernacle. No, there were precise instructions as to how to do it. there is also a pattern God wants us to live our lives in. unless we apply the principles of God’s word, we will not experience the blessing God has for us.

three “habitudes”:
1. commit to God’s word.
2. commit to worship.
3. commit to doing it God’s way. there is no middle ground with God.

and live a blessed life.

21 February 2006

"all-or-nothing" vs. diligence

i tend to be an "all-or-nothing" type of person. and i married someone who is the same way. it actually is a good thing in many ways, because when we're on it, we can hit some stuff out of the park together. but i know that there's the element of diligence and patience that tends to wane when we give in to the all-or-nothing mindset. if i can't do it all the way completely everything i want something to be, then i tend to not want to do it at all. all or nothing.

my daughter tori actually inspired me to write this with her post a couple days ago. she applied it to her quiet times with God. daily diligence is way better than hit and miss (which is what "all-or-nothing" winds up being).

God, help me to do what is right every day, every decision, every breath i take - and not be so consumed with "making a dent." help me to be satisfied more with diligence than an infrequent "hit."

and thanks, Lord, for my amazing daughter.

17 February 2006

interview with dr. cheri leblanc

this week i interviewed a great lady in our church who heads up one of the most exciting ministries i can think of. this weekend we're going to dedicate our new mobile medical clinic - a bunch of miracles waiting to happen.

(dr. cheri is in the middle in the back.)

dr. cheri leblanc is an internal medicine specialist in the baton rouge area. she and her family have been a part of healing place church since 1999. she started the healing hands ministry of hpc in 2001 and has served passionately and faithfully to help bring healing to hurting people. she has curtailed her own practice to the point that she only works there in the mornings and she spends the rest of her time volunteering to work in the mobile clinic.

q: where did the idea for the mobile clinic come from?

dr. cheri: about three years ago, God gave me this as a dream. the dream was to be able to provide medical help to people in a variety of areas who were otherwise unable to get the help they needed. donaldsonville, the inner city of baton rouge, gonzales, and places like that. a mobile clinic is the way to do it. we (the healing hands team at hpc) began praying for it. we had never seen this done before, but at an hpc leaders retreat in hammond, claudia berry encouraged me to “pray and ask God for a vision for the ministry of healing hands.” we began praying not just for a mobile clinic, but for a clear vision of what God wanted to do with healing hands. and God answered those prayers. it has now been one year this month (february) that we’ve been operating a free medical clinic from the donaldsonville dream center. and the mobile clinic is now coming online.

q: tell us more about the clinic in the donaldsonville dream center.

dr. cheri: we were blessed to find a space in the dream center. it was just an old electrical closet, but some volunteers worked hard and very creatively to turn the closet into a clinic room. we’ve been there on location every other week, visiting anywhere from 10-20 patients every time.

q: what kind of medical care are you able to provide at the dream center clinic (and now in the mobile clinic)?

dr. cheri: we become their family doctor. we can do everything from check-ups to ekg’s, strep cultures to diabetes testing, and even x-rays and mammograms on some occasions.

q: that sounds like it requires quite a setup. how were we able to obtain a mobile clinic with that kind of setup?

dr. cheri: in the aftermath of hurricane katrina, i was honored to work closely with prc compassion, and in serving there, i met doctors and medical professionals from all over the country. the connection these people felt to the need here was strong, and when i shared with them our vision for a mobile clinic, they fell in love with the idea. so much so that when one group went back to california to their home churches, they were able to muster a lot of support for the clinic. their churches wanted to help with the relief effort, but they wanted to have a specific connection point. through the relationship with these medical professionals, the mobile clinic was how they decided to invest their help. but even with all their generous help, we still needed more funding. that’s when God brought northwest medical into the picture, and they offered to help, and we (hpc) were able to start the ball rolling by making the down payment. now we’re ready to roll, and we’ve got supplies and medicine that could last us up to a year already on hand.

q: so what are your plans for the near future to “get rolling”?

dr. cheri: we’ve actually already started by setting up one clinic day at the spanish campus in gonzales. we saw patients for four hours – a total of 26 people. we’re making plans now to schedule a regular clinic time at that campus. we’re continuing with the dream center clinic, and we’ve begun seeing people from bethany north’s center of hope, many of whom are katrina victims who have been living in hotels in that part of town. there are several more opportunities to serve in communities of hurricane victims that we’re pursuing right now as well. we want to grow to 10 clinics each month.

q: can you describe a typical clinic day?

dr. cheri: well, we make arrangements first with the location to be sure they have a facility with restrooms and seating to serve as a waiting area. this works especially well when the location is a church. we have volunteers who serve as greeters and hosts – to help the people feel welcome and to keep them company while they wait. they also help bring the guests to the patient rooms when it is their turn to be seen. after the visit, the hosts take them to a station where we’ll set up their next visit with the doctor. then before they leave, each guest is prayed for by prayer partners – volunteers who are there simply to pray with people for their needs. in our first clinic at the spanish campus, three people gave their lives to Jesus right there on the spot while praying with the prayer partners. that’s where the real ministry happens. it is all ministry – helping them with medical care, loving on them, and praying for them. but when we’re honored with the privilege to pray with someone as they cross the line of faith, that’s really special. the medical care is just the carrot to draw them in. the one-on-one ministry is what it’s all about.

q: what kind of help do you need? do volunteers need to be medical professionals?

dr. cheri: we need a lot of people who can just help host, greet, serve as receptionists, and prayer partners, and we need medical professionals as well. the more volunteers we have, the more clinics we can do, and the more people we can help. it is a way to serve that will bless you tremendously every time you do it.

q: if someone wants to volunteer to help with the healing hands mobile clinic, what should they do?

dr. cheri: on sunday, march 5, at 4pm in the annex 1 auditorium, we’re going to have a meeting for anyone who wants to be a part. they can also email healinghands@healingplacechurch.org or call 225-408-3380 ext. 347 and we’ll be glad to answer any questions they have.

15 February 2006

hpc - 2005 in review video

if you haven't seen it yet (or even if you have) you need to check this video out.

God did so much in us, for us, through us last year. it's all because of Him and for Him and His purposes.

i'm just glad i get to be a part of it.

10 February 2006

we're in outreach magazine

big thanks to outreach mag's lindy lowry (editor) and keri wyatt kent (writer) for the great article on hurricane relief outreach by churches here in the gulf coast. i honestly mean it when i say that i'd be grateful they ran this as their cover story in their most recent issue even if healing place wasn't in it. it is a report on what we've said a thousand times has one of the best examples of churches being what the church is supposed to be.

here's some excerpts:

The fourth most powerful hurricane recorded in U.S. history, Katrina killed more than 1,300 people, displaced more than 1.3 million residents and exceeded property damages of $125 billion—directly affecting an estimated 3 million people (about one-fourth of the combined populations of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama). No single church or even denomination could’ve met the staggering needs. Instead, churches and ministries worked together to quickly respond not with blame, but with a flood of compassion greater than the 30-foot storm swell recorded in Biloxi, Miss.

Together, churches of different denom-inations and cultures reached out—and are continuing to do so in a way none of them could have possibly done alone.

and here's the part where they interviewed dino rizzo:

“The storm did not discriminate,“ says Dino Rizzo, pastor of Healing Place Church (healingplacechurch.org) in Baton Rouge, La., located about 60 miles west of New Orleans. “It hit affluent areas and poor areas. And the response from the body of Christ has been the same: It knew no difference.“

Historically, Rizzo’s non-denominational church, with six different area campuses, has aided the low-income community. The church often helps the poor, typically serving 100,000 to 150,000 meals a year.

But in response to these disasters, Rizzo says, the whole body of Christ “took on a massive serving towel.“ “This has been the body of Christ’s finest hour,“ he asserts.

More than 450 Louisiana churches were already connected by PRC (Pastor’s Resource Council), a coalition of churches and ministries Rizzo and other pastors had formed several years ago to address social and economic challenges throughout the state.

So as the magnitude of the devastation became clearer, PRC pastors and ministry leaders began calling each other and as a result formed PRC Compassion (prccompassion.org), an official expression of PRC. They also received calls from national ministries and churches across the country as 80 to 90 Baton Rouge churches turned their buildings into shelters. “About 800 to 900 people stayed at Bethany World Prayer Center, which is a very large church, but we also had tiny local churches that would take 20 people,“ Rizzo says. “Some churches had members take people home with them. Others served people with special needs. We were all calling and talking to each other.“

PRC and a large informal network of hundreds of churches and ministries have donated funds and sent volunteers. Some of the money has been used to pay the salaries and operating budgets of those churches, so that when their members return, the pastors will be there to help. “It’s amazing how much gets accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit,“ Rizzo says. “We said, ‘You need to check your ego and your logo at the door.’“

lindy, keri - thanks for the hard work, and for your heart to share this story through your great magazine.

09 February 2006

bono: he's got this part right

brian bailey posted this the other day: some stuff bono had to say recently about our mission as the Church.

i like especially this quote:

"God is in the slums and the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives. And God is with us, if we are with them."

bono's got some stuff right. i'm not a big proponent of his - i still think he's got some stuff mixed up with the whole montra about COEXIST and all paths leading to God and all that. however, what he's doing by bringing to light the need for a response to the incomprehensibly huge crisis in africa with AIDS and the orphans it is creating - i totally appreciate.

07 February 2006

two minutes to 40

in two minutes, i'll be 40.

it's weird. those of you who've crossed that line know what i mean, and those who haven't probably wouldn't understand anyway, so that's not what this post is really about.

one morning during a prayer meeting at the church, i was using an ipod on loan from jd, my 11-year old son. i listened to a group i'd never really listened closely to before - ten shekel shirt - and the first song that came up had these lyrics in it:

i'm allowed to live to make the Maker smile.
i'm about to give the best years of my life.

i've been blessed with a lot of life in my 40 years. growing up as an mk (missionary kid) i got to live in the philippines twice and in belgium for a few years. by the time i was 20 i'd been in something like 25 countries, and changed schools 12 times.

in the next 20 years of my life i did a lot less travel but i was blessed to have jobs for the most part that paid me to do what i loved to do. i worked in software training and support, learning tons on the job. i also worked as a youth pastor and for the last 6 years i've been working at hpc.

while i've always done my best to do what i had in front of me to do, i think i've always had this deal working in my head that i'm always working for the next step ahead. i think that drive has helped me, and it's part of why i've been able to learn what i have to this point in my life. i've seen a lot, and i cherish the blessing of the experiences i've had so far.

what i am realizing now for my life is that now is the time for me to stop being concerned so much on the next step ahead, and begin to enjoy thriving at what i am doing now. there's still drive, there's still a whole lot of push - don't get me wrong. but there's a new sense that says to me that (to pull some thought from the book "living your strengths") i need to begin to worry less about being well-rounded (and thereby being dull) and instead begin to excel at what i do best. to make sure in these next 20 years that i do all i can to give everything i am to the things that only i can do:

  • only i can be the husband my wife needs

  • only i can be the father my daughter needs

  • only i can be the father my four sons need

  • only i can do what God has called me to do on this staff at hpc

i'm absolutely sold out to making the next 20 years be consumed with putting to use all that God has blessed me with in the first 40 years - putting it all to use in what God has assigned me to do on this earth. I want these next 20 years to make every blessing God has planted in my life to bear fruit for Him.

i can't wait. two minutes to 40. two minutes to the best years of my life. i hope i make my Maker smile.

the apostles' creed

a while back i posted a request for some help with a series we're about to start on wednesday nights about the apostles' creed. i got some good input from gary lamb (thanks gary), and i found some cool stuff surfing around various sites. i figured i'd share the resulting research compilation with you for those who might be interested.

05 February 2006

wish i'd thought of this design for an ad for easter at hpc

(found this over at church marketing sucks.)

congrats jd; congrats steelers

my 11-year-old #1 son, jd plays upward basketball with the healing place kids' basketball league. in the picture above, he's on the right, dwarfed by his awesome coach, 6'-9" jason winningham (great name for a competitor) and his teammate austin wright. now jd's not small - he's a 5'-2" wide body - the wide is inherited from his father, no doubt - and he plays tough inside - gets loads of rebounds - until yesterday he hadn't scored in a game. but he got a put-back yesterday in their win. i love that he loves basketball. i love playing with him and his friends in our driveway on a 7-foot goal. most of all, i love that his love for the game isn't ahead of his love for God - i'd much rather see him excel in his walk with God than make it to the NBA any day of the week.

this morning he got up at 3am with me to help take my parents (dave and jean ohlerking) to the airport for their early flight out to africa to continue their work with children's cup in swaziland. jd hauled suitcases and kept me awake during the drive back from the airport. he's my boy - but not so much boy anymore - becoming quite a young man.

i'm proud to be his dad.

on the other timely note: congrats to the steelers. i hate that seattle couldn't pull it together at the end of each half, but i'm convinced that this was one of those super bowls where the better team was shown - it wasn't a game that was tainted by a terrible call or by a weird injury or even a bunch of freak plays. great game. congrats steeler fans everywhere - and especially to jerome bettis - going out on top.

jumbo blog

here's a link to the blog of a friend of mine - jp brumfield - one of those blogs that really captures the true heart of what blogging is all about. jp's that kind of guy - true to the core - what you see is what you get and what you get is a hard-working, God-loving, psycho-about-serving type of person.

plus, if you check out the video at the beginning of this message by dino rizzo, you'll see that he and his family have been through something few of us could ever imagine going through - and he has come through the trial loving and trusting God - i see him as a great example of God's strength in a life.

jp - you are the man.

03 February 2006

top ten lists - i'm gonna cave

i haven't been a big list-maker - i always feel like i'm leaving out someone or something. but, in the aftermath of recently alphabetizing my way-too-long list on the sidebar of "sites i love, blogs i read" i have decided to cave in and do an unsorted list of ten blogs i thrive on reading. so here goes:

  • dino rizzo - ok, so this one's at the top of the list on purpose but not just 'cuz he's my boss here at healing place - his posts almost always have something in there that reminds me to keep my focus on helping hurting people find hope in Christ.

  • dave ohlerking - my dad - a missionary (founder of children's cup and writer with wisdom like crazy - coming from 35 years of experiences as a missionary - well over 100 countries he's travelled to, and almost 40 years of being my dad. i wonder how many guys like me there are who can say that their dad's blog is one of their favorite to read...

  • ben abu saada (babulife) - very open, willing to ask questions, great sense of humor and a thread of missionary-mindedness that i love.

  • lori fitzgerald - from seacoast church - she's like a modern-day erma bombeck. terribly funny, especially if you have kids or remember being one.

  • dan kimball - author of "emerging church" a book that helped open my eyes to a lot of how i now see church.

  • gary lamb (mad babble from a church planter) - some of the best conversations i've read in a blog anywhere. he's open and authentic about stuff and a great source for thoughts and lessons on church planting.

  • david russell - when my rss menu shows a new post in david's blog, it's the first one i go to. he recently joined the ncc team with mark batterson. smart, loves God, and has a lock on using technology in minstry like few others i've heard of.

  • geoff surratt - another from seacoast church - a genius in the world of multi-site church. and a pretty nice guy, too. drinks diet coke.

  • patrick conti - a missionary working with children's cup in swaziland - he has a great mind, and an even bigger heart for the kids (aids orphans and other ovc's) he works with there.

  • perry noble - another pastor with at least his fair share of cool factor but with a ton of great insight as well.

  • shawn wood - yet another from seacoast church, and another IT dude making the list here - he's a new dad, and that always makes for some great posts. one of the nicest bloggers out there.

  • tony morgan - "simply" tony. he's got a ton of great stuff in a lot of different directions on his site. insight into his church and what he's doing there, but way more - a great source of info and inspiration.

okay, so that's more than 10. see? i can't do pick one of these not to include. and there's so many more - leadership blog (josh sargeant), monday morning insight (todd rhoades), blogging church (brian bailey/terry storch).... i could go on for days. i literally have almost 80 blogs in my rss menu. which right now shows 114 unread - so i'll stop typing for now and start reading some more.

deep waters

I just got an email from a good friend of mine - rob ketterling (river valley in mn) with some of his notes from the c3 conference at fellowship church in grapvine texas. he forwarded some stuff he saw on mark batterson's blog from the event, and then shared some of his own notes. i've picked a few to share here, and one in particular that hit me:

  • There are certain things you don't see unless you're moving at the same speed with God. When you are moving you are parralel to God and you can look in his eyes and see what he wants you to do..."

  • In proactivity we see the activity of God

  • God works in uncertainty

  • Live in a way that honors God, safety is not it.

  • When you play it safe, God doesn't have to show up

Jonathan is the patron saint of risk-takers! He climbed a cliff and single-handedly took on the Philistine army! He said, "Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf." Jonathan took the initiative. He made a choice to do something, anything.

"Keep moving and God's steering will get you where you need to go."

here's some of my response to rob:

rob - thanks for the notes. since i couldn't be there, i was tracking mark's stuff through the conference as well as david russell’s stuff (and brian bailey's), but I really like what you added here. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages in psalms:

Ps 107
23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the LORD,
And His wonders in the deep.

It’s not those who are in a safe zone that see miracles. Those who go where they cannot do for themselves – they see God step in and do what only He can do. like the early missionaries – remember the story we heard in bible college - they were trying to cross a flooded river to get the gospel to an unreached tribe. They prayed and were transported across the river miraculously – remember that story? That isn’t going to happen until we get ourselves up against a the flooded river. Staying at home saying, “well, that river might be flooded – I’d better not go today” is not the formula for the miracle.

miracles are for the glory of God and for the accomplishment of His will – which is usually focused around reaching the lost.

i'm ready to launch out into some things - to go where i cannot handle it all by myself. and see what God does to bring glory to His name.

01 February 2006

more from brazil

i just got this report that isaias (hpc's manaus, brazil campus pastor) sent to mark stermer (hpc's multi-site campus director).

man, i love this church.

Pastor Marcos,

We are doing well here. The 21 days of Discovery is being a blessing to the church. God is working mightily in the lives of the people here. We have had an average of 20 to 25 people in morning prayer. We had various answers to prayer. When we started the early morning prayer a lady's husband was about to lose her job. About 3 days later she shared that her husband did not lose his job. They were laying off a lot of people but he did not get laid off. Another lady in the church lives really far from here and has made an effort to come to morning prayer. The devil has been doing everything for her not to be able to come. Her car started acting up and everything else. But God has been blessing her life now, and has honored her will to seek His face. She has become more committed to the Lord. A young lady was praying for her sister that was walking away from God. This past Sunday, her sister came to church and just broke down in the presence of God. She has returned to the Lord. Another young lady was praying for her cousin to come back to God. She has done so as well this Sunday. Today I will be visiting their families that are walking away from God, but God is moving in their lives.

This past Sunday we had three people make a decision and last night another young lady accepted Christ. God is moving in great ways down here and we are excited to be part of it. We prepared a meal for the community this past Saturday. It was an awesome time. Some of the people that ate came to the service Sunday night. We gave away a bag of food. Two of the people that accepted Christ Sunday night were from the meal give away on Saturday. We plan to do a meal twice a month and later do it every Saturday.

The church is growing. The services are a blessing. Sometimes the people don't want to leave because the environment of the church is so peaceful, and joyful. We are going to buy more chairs because we are having trouble seating everyone. We have now 7 small groups. Soon we will have one more.

My family is doing well. We are working hard but it's been an awesome season in our lives. We are waiting for you visit here soon. Send my greetings to Pastor Dino and his family. Thank you for all your prayers and support.

In Him who is our joy,