One of those relationships is with a new friend name Brad Fiscus. Brad is a father of 2, who's wife is a prominent doctor in our area. And in the last year, they have felt the call of God return Brad to the place as serving as the Youth Director for this area of the Methodist church. Brad has a heart to see every student in his distract reached with the gospel of Jesus. Every student, not just the ones that are somehow attached to the Methodist church. And when he presents that audacious goal to the Methodists churches he serves all over Tennessee, he is quick to point out to them that such a goal will not be accomplished without the whole Church of Jesus in our area, and not just the Methodists. I like that, its Kingdom, and Brad is not afraid to say so.
Brad and I had breakfast this morning, and in our time together he honored me when he was introducing me to one of his friends by calling me one of his advisers. Now i would not go so far as to say that I advise Brad on much, however what Brad and I have found is a common goal. And as the scripture says, "Iron sharpens Iron as one man does another." I believe Brad and i spend our time wielding the common sword God has given us to swing with one another. What this causes is a refreshing cutting, and clanging of ideas and beliefs that God has resonated deep in our soul. This conversation becomes quite comical at times because Brad and I both tend to speak over one another. Not in the rude, let me get my thought in sort of way. But instead in excitement like two little boys that can't believe that recess is actually part of school, and can't wait to explain to each other what is about to happen or has already. I will share one quick example with you today, that really cleared Kingdom up for me in his world. Brad reminded me that there are a number of organizations that are tied to the Methodist church that are training YP's. His distract office is just one of them. This fact was brought to his attention by another ministry in the light of competition, which Brad very quickly and precisly stopped. To paraphrase him, "there is way too much to do and be accomplished for the church to be worried about who is getting credit for what. I want to reach every student, and the only way to do that is for us to celebrate all the tools that God is using to train up that army that is meant to reach them." I loved the comment, and appreciated the positive outlook on all the opportunities he faces. So mad props to my buddy Brad Fiscus, keep wielding the sword gave has given you to swing!!
I spent some time in Proverbs today. Not nearly the study time i would have wished, however still it is part of my disciplines, and I am moved by it. Anyone who has spent any amount time walking with me either as an attender or better yet a disciple will know that i think proverbs is a great place to start learning the scriptures. The amount of wisdom in each one, makes it fresh everyday. And there are 31, so anytime you need to make a decision where to start your reading, just think about the calendar day and go there. It also seems logical to me to read a proverb and a chapter from one the Gospels. If you were to accomplish this discipline for a year. You would have read proverbs through 12 times, and each of the gospels a minimum of 3 times through. So for a year you get wisdom and life in Christ every day. Sounds like good foundations to me.
Again, speaking of the scriptures and my desire to devour them more and more. I was hit in the face with a fact the other day. Many times in my teaching / preaching ministry i have talked about my love for the Torah (the first five books of the bible, mostly thought to be written by Moses) and all the Jesus that is in the OT in general. One of the themes i have used so many times is a period of Testing (40days) and i have preached up and down about the flood, the exodus, the testing of Christ, etc, etc. However i never noticed that exodus has 40 chapters. Seems funny, however it took an incredible picture book i found at Davis Kidd for it to hit me in the face. In this book the author attempted with one large picture to depict the ongoings of each chapter, and then had the text on the painting in both Hebrew and KJV english. I walked away from those few minutes thumbing through the book, realizing that God is constantly teaching us the scriptures. And that often i have made my scope way to narrow. I am one that pushes myself to be more creative in how i think and teach and yet, how often on my early morning drive to the gym do i miss the Genesis story of creation being told right in front of me with the breaking of the sun over the trees, or the early morning busyness of all the animals i pass. There are new mercys every morning, and i must continue to press myself away from religion so that my faith in Jesus will set me free to see all that God is up to, always.
Another Kingdom conversation i had today was with Shannon Popp. Shannon is the City Director of First Priority Front Range in Aurora, CO. Shannon has an incredible passion to see the local church united through Aurora and all of Denver. What i have found incredible about him is his zeal and tenacity for the cause. When it comes to ministry, it seems it is often easier to find all the things that are wrong with the work of the church, and let's face it especially in religious circles, negativity sells. But in my very biased opinion, Shannon has got it down. He feels that what the Lord has called him to means, giving his ALL to it. Not in the weird sense where is forsaking his family. No, instead in the sense that says, his hard work, attention to detail, and willingness to share the gospel with anyone who will listen, will lead to value. That value being, chasing after the goal that the Lord has placed in front of him. Seeing the defeats and closed doors as opportunities, and seeing the victories as Glory to God and worth working hard for. Shannon is a one man show, guiding an army of city leaders, youth pastors, and parents with all he has got. So when i get done with a phone call with him, all i can think about is Kingdom and all the glory he is bringing to God. Well done my brother, well done, may the Lord allow you another 60 years to continue on.
I will close the evening with this thought. I have been with First Priority of America now for almost a year Full Time. In that time we continue to serve 61 cities that are on some level trying to unite with the cause of reaching every student in their area. During my time with First Priority we have faced so many incredible opportunities to stay together in the midst of perceived economic turmoil. In fact at this time it looks like that each of us will be returning to serve in a local church across the US, in order continue to better lead this orginization. Which if we are not careful seems almost logical, since FP is a "Local Church Strategy" not a parachurch minsitry. So our family faces the issue that the local body we serve may not be in Nashville TN where we currently reside. Right now there seen to be opportunities in Birmingham AL, Philadelphia PA, and even Oklahoma or Las Vegas. Much of the consideration of these possibilities leads me back to a book i recently finished by Myles Monroe called Discovering the Kingdom. Though there are many incredible thoughts in this book. I am constently reminded of one thing, it is a quote of Jesus from Matthew 6, towards the end of the chapter where he is teaching on worry, and he says this "Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all of this will be given to you as well." it finishes with a reminder about worry. So for our family, each day has enough worry; consideration, contemplation, opportunity, that today is enough for us to focus on, tomorrow and our future will be taken care of if the lens we choose to see it through is Kingdom. That my friends is a goal that will take a life time to walk out, but a journey that will be worth each day as it revealed.
May the Kingdom of God chase each of you into the day your face tomorrow, and may He remind you to seek it and its righteousness first. PEACE.