Greg King

Five Stones

Break the Famine

istock_000005343680small1Let me ask you an honest question? Will this be the year you break through your personal spiritual famine and take significant ground with Christ? Have you stalled some this past year in your relationship with Him? The good news is that He is waiting for you to come back to Him.  So what causes people who believe strongly in God and salvation by grace to stall out spiritually?

The Book Follow Me by Willow Creek comments that those who are stalled report much lower levels of personal spiritual practices than those who are not stalled. These same folks that have stalled also report that their spiritual growth is no longer a high priority. The overwhelming majority of these folks also said that they became unstalled by reengaging in personal spiritual practices.  So while their are several spiritual disciplines that you could embrace this year let me strongly urge you to make sure that you are spending time in your Bible. Almost every piece of research data reveals that spending time in the Bible has the highest spiritual impact in ones life. More specifically, reflect on the meaning of scripture in your life.

If you’ve been a believer for awhile then you already know this and most likely agree with everything that I have said. The issue is I know that you believe it but are you actively living it? One of the statements that I challenge my actions with comes from Andy Stanley who says; “It your direction, not your intentions that determine your destination.” So while I may say how much I love God what is the direction of my life saying? Good intentions never get us anywhere especially in the Christian Faith. Look at the following verse:

Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar. (Joel 2:17)

The porch was the area that everyone could see, it represents the public aspect of our Christian life. The alter however represents the private part of our worship life.  In the life of a believer, there should always be more private worship than public worship. When you read about Jesus, you do not see Him praying in public nearly as much as you see Him praying in private. We have forgotten that most of our spiritual victories are not won in public but instead they are won in private.

When was the last time you said a prayer like this: I want more Lord, I’m hungry.” I don’t want my spiritual life to be the exact way it was last year and the year before…I want more. I’m starving to death and I just can’t do my Christian life as usual any longer. Help me  to align my intentions up with my  life.

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Juggling Elephants

istock_000005330534smallOccasionally, a book comes along that presents leadership concepts in a new and exciting way. That’s exactly what these authors have done. I was hooked from the introduction and didn’t quit reading until I finished the last sentence. The book I’m talking about is  Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done-Now by Jones Loflin and Todd Musig. The tension the book creates is, “What do you do when your life feels like a three ring circus?” The authors do a great job of taking some key leadership thoughts and placing them into a memorable story.

Each year I always try to pause and take a hard 360 look of my life the past year. I think its fair to say that my life this past year has been a circus at times. I have struggled to balance my many responsibilities of husband,minister, Dad, boss, and friend while trying not to crack under the pressure. One of my biggest flaws I have is that I’m always trying to get everything done. You learn very quickly from the book that trying to get everything done is like juggling elephants…impossible. The premise of the book is for you to look  at your life the way in which a ringmaster looks at the many acts in his three ring circus.

The three rings in my circus consist of my professional ring, relationship ring,  and my self ring. The fact is the ringmaster cannot be in all three rings at once. When I read that line I realized this book had great potential to help me implement some changes I need to make for the new year. So many times this year I would be in my relationship circle with my kids and wife and would be mentally checked out because I was thinking about what I needed to do at church. Below are some of the key talking points you can find on the books website:

The result of trying to juggle elephants is that no one, including you, is thrilled with your performance.

The ringmaster cannot be in all three rings at once.

The key to the success of the circus is having quality acts in all three rings.

There is no shortage of acts for the circus.

The relationship between the ringmaster and the performers affects the quality of the circus.

Intermission is an essential part of creating a better circus performance.

Your circus is only as good as your last performance.

I will be posting on some of the things that I want to see happen in my three circles over the next month. If you are looking for a book to help you manage your personal circus and can handle one more book using a story to tell a story then I would highly recommend this book. I actually just finished my second reading on it last night. Can you tell I need to make some changes in my circus?

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Leadership, Life | 1 Comment

Bury Me With My Cell Phone?

istock_000005475259smallDid you happen to see the article on MSNBC about some of the latest trends in regards to how attached people are to their cell phones? The article says that it is becoming common for relatives  to bury their loved ones with their cell phones. Some people are even keeping cell phone accounts open so that they can continue to call and hear the voice message of their dead loved one. The cell phone is becoming so much a part of who we are that it is becoming natural for people to include that as part of the burial. To be honest I’m ready to bury my cell phone now. I have this love hate relationship going on right now with my iPhone. While I love to be connected I also hate being connceted. I love being able to reach people when I need to but I hate it when my phone buzzes with a text froms omeone at 1:30am in the morning. This year I need to focus on not being on my cell phone or playing around with it when I am in the company of my family. I am trying to learn how to focus on that time and to not allow any other distractions take away my attention. I’m sad to say that I have cheated on my family a little too much this year. What I mean by that is that I can cheat them by being with them but having my mind connected to work.

Bury Me With My Cell Phone

December 27, 2008 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

Through the Eyes of Mary Part #5

istock_000007349205smallIt’s hard to grasp that God would use the obedience of a teenage girl to fulfill the Old Testament Prophecy about the Messiah.

He would be born of a virgin, He would be of the House of David, He would be born in Bethlehem, He would be preceded by a messenger, He would preach the good news, He would be anointed by the Spirit, He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey, He would be betrayed by a friend, He would be rejected by the Jews, He would be forsaken by his disciples, He would be accused by false witnesses, He would be beaten and spit upon, He would have his hands and feet pierced, He would cry out my God why has thou forsaken me, and He would be executed between two thieves.

It must have been such an honor to be chosen but it must have also have been so painful. For the one who gave birth to the child in the manger now ends up at the foot of the Cross watching her first born die for the sins of the world. There had been a time when this child had followed Mary wherever she went and now she would spend the remainder of her life following in the steps of the Savior for the World…Her Son.

He would also rise from the dead, He would ascend into heaven and sit at the right hand of God, and He is coming again.

Our worship becomes a sweet aroma to God when it is lived out in daily obedience. We can learn so much from the life of Mary. While her life was not perfect she was determined to make God the center of her life. It makes you wonder what God is waiting to do through your obedience. He has a habit of using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

When I make God the center of my life I can’t help but worship.

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Worship | Leave a comment

Through the Eyes of Mary Part #4

istock_000006782942xsmall2Even in our most unfamiliar times and places God is present. So if you are in an unfamiliar place or having to deal with some unfamiliar experiences take a breath and remember that God is with you during those moments. Take heart that God sees the bigger picture just as He did on this special day in the life of Mary. God would have His son to be born in a messy place because His plan was for Him to save a messy world.

When you step back just a little, where else would a shepherd be born? God sent His son the Great Shepherd for His sheep. He would sleep where his sheep slept, eat where they ate, and live where they lived.  The shepherd had come to care for His sheep. The book of John tells us that the Word became flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood. Nothing else would ever be the same. Not only that but the manger also sends the message that Jesus is accessible to everyone. That he came for the sick and the poor, the hurting and the needy. He came for me. He came to get messy. He came to serve and he would never have a place to lay His head. So where else but a manger. So if things are not going according to your plan, remember our plans our flawed and His plans are perfect.

When I make God the center of my life I can’t help but worship.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Worship | Leave a comment

Through the Eyes of Mary Part #3

istock_000007254404small1Do you ever feel a little like Charlie Brown at this time of the year, depressed over the amount of commercialism that takes places during the Christmas Season? Through the years we have even commercialized the nativity scene. If you think about it we have made the nativity into a beautiful After School Hallmark Special. The problem is that we have made the Nativity too perfect and lovely. The fact is everything about this so called silent night was anything but silent or calm. I think if we could ask Mary she would say things were far from a perfect situation that night. However, you would never know that by looking at the nativities that we have in our homes. Just think about some of these things and compare them to what we see on our mantles: Read Luke 2:1-7.

Mary has just traveled some 70 miles on a donkey. Stop right there…a pregnant woman riding on a donkey lets us know that this was not an ideal situation.

After traveling 70 miles on the donkey Mary learns that there is not a place for them to stay. In fact she is led to a stable where she is going to have to give birth to her first child. You can almost hear Mary say of all the places please not here.

In most nativity scenes Mary has not even broken a sweat.  The animals are all lined up perfectly. Some even look they have even been recently groomed. There is no dirt, insects, mud, manure or other things found in a stable full of animals. There is also no evidence that a baby has just been born in that very manger.; what I’m alluding to is that there is no blood.

The most noticeable thing missing in my opinion that night is actually the absence of a few people. There was no doctor, midwife or nurse, or even her own mother to help her through her first birth. Mary and Joseph would have to do this on their own without help from others.

Do you think this is how Mary dreamed of giving birth to God’s child? Do you think this was the picture she had in her mind of how she would deliver God’s only child? Now let me ask you this, if you were to ask Mary several years down the road if she would have changed anything about that night what do you think she would say.

I personally believe that Mary had learned a great truth about God and her circumstances:

When I make God the center of my life I can’t help but worship.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | Worship | 1 Comment

The Average Person Lies Three Times per Ten Minutes of Conversation

istock_000000446279small1At least that is what an expert on a new Fox Tv Show called “Lie to Me “says. This show is based off of the studies of psychologist Paul Ekman who is the author of Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage and is also a renowned expert in emotions research and nonverbal communication.

The truth is  lying has become one of those acceptable sins of the day. Feel free to lie as long as it really doesn’t hurt someone is how most people live. However God views what comes out of our mouths very seriously. Take a look at what the writer says in Proverbs:

God can’t stomach liars; he loves the company of those who keep their word.  Prov. 12:22

It’s only human to want to make a buck, but it’s better to be poor than a liar. Prov. 19:22

I have to ask do you think most people really lie three times in a ten minute conversation. I know for us preachers if that includes exaggeration then we are in big trouble. People most likely exaggerate all the time but who flat out lies this often? So do you agree or disagree? Do you lie in almost every conversation you have? I don’t think I do, but now I’m going to be doing a little personal research over the holiday break to see where I land. I know my weakness is to exaggerate so I will be trying to see how bad that has gotten in my normal conversations. So let’s see how many Pinocchio’s are out there.

December 20, 2008 Posted by | Life | 3 Comments

Through the Eyes of Mary Part #2

istock_000004655563small1While Mary’s response is one of true worship it would be naive for us to think that she wasn’t struggling with her emotions. She must have been torn with two conflicting emotions: excitement and fear. In some sense we’ve all been there, excited about what God is asking us to do and at the same time scared about the ramifications that it will cause around us and maybe even in us. It’s hard not be to scared when the unexpected enters into our  life, whether that be a loss of a loved one, a loss of a job, a loss of control, or a loss of our expectations/desires. While the scriptures do not go into  detail, I believe Mary must have dealt with some type of fear. The fear of how her family would respond, the fear of losing Joseph, and the fear of losing her reputation. However, Mary did not give into fear but instead she worshiped.

Look at her famous song/response in Luke 1:47-50.

Fear is one of the biggest enemies to what God wants to do in our life. We have to unlearn the fears that have attack us throughout the years, fear of uncertainty, fear of risk, the fear of looking foolish, and the countless other fears that hold us back from worshiping God with our life. The only way I know how to unlearn the fears that I have acquired throughout my life is to download scripture into my heart and mind. By doing so I am reminded of all the promises that God has set into motion for my life. I am reminded of how Big My God is. Don’t let your mental fears keep you from experiencing all that God wants to do in your life. Mary experienced the same type of fear that all of us would have encountered but she chose to face it. Maybe what God wants for you is hiding right now in your biggest problem or in your greatest fear. So when the tough times come into your life (and they will) will you choose worship or will you choose fear and worry?

The Bottom Line is that when I make God the center of my life I can’t help but worship.

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Worship | Leave a comment

Through the Eyes of Mary Part #1

istock_000000584335small1How do you respond when the unexpected crashes into your life? The book of James tells us that it is in these moments, the moments when we are under pressure, that our faith-filled life is forced into the open and our true colors emerge. In Luke 1:26-35 we get the opportunity to see a beautiful work of art that God is putting on display for us to learn how to worship when life crashes into our lives.

Some background on this text is that God’s voice has been silent now for nearly four hundred years. God in His perfect timing has chosen to break the silence between Him and Man by sending the angel Gabriel to the Galilean Village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married. I love how the Message says that she was thoroughly shaken by this unexpected visit from God’s messenger. Can you imagine if she is completely shaken by the greeting of the angel how much more would she be shaken by the rest of the message? That she would become pregnant without ever being with a man. That this birth would save mankind and fulfill the long awaited prophecy.

Its interesting that in the eyes of the world Mary was just an ordinary 14 year old girl but to God she was extraordinary. God loves to use ordinary people for extraordinary things. The Message also says that the angel declared that she was beautiful with God’s beauty both on the inside and out. When we worship God with our life we become radiant with His glory. Mary’s doubt must have been huge but her faith was bigger. Mary’s response to the unexpected in her life is one of the most glorious worship services ever held.

“I am the Lord’s servant.” May it be to me as you have said. -Luke 1:38

The greatest lesson that I learn from Mary’s unexpected worship is that,

“When I make God the center of my life I can’t help but worship.”

So if the unexpected has crashed into your life this season may you take courage and worship.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Worship | 1 Comment

Where is Your Third Place?

istock_000005053795largeThrough the years the church has lost its place as the community gathering place or the so called “Third Place.” The “third place” term was coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg. The concept of a third place involves a gathering place for people separate from the home (the first place) and work (the second place). The third place is an anchor of the community, which facilitates relational interaction between people in the community. The concept of a third place has become very important for the younger generation. This is obviously one of the reasons why you see a Starbucks or a Panera on almost every corner. You are no longer just paying for a cup of coffee or a sandwich instead you are also paying to be apart of community. If the church desires to become the “third place” in the lives of this younger generation then a lot of the sacred cows in the church are going to need to be removed. The fact is students drop out of church because their church is not essential to them. Lord may we as the church become Essential again in the lives of students.

Where is your Third Place?

If this article peaked your interest, pick up the book where I stole most of my thoughts The Essential Church.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Church Life, Uncategorized | 2 Comments