How Dangerous are You?


Thirteen years ago, I was channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon after preaching that morning at the First Baptist Church, County-Seat-Town that I served in at the time. While looking for something to watch on a slow Sunday afternoon sports day, I came across a program that I later discovered was sponsored by the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. This program was all about the changing face of worship and what God was doing in places far from my ministry context.

It was that afternoon that I felt God’s call to go and plant a church. That call would be further refined over the next several months and, in the end, resulted in moving my family from Oklahoma to Arizona. Over the years, God blessed that new church with exciting growth, allowing me to be part of a larger church planting movement in our state. And, now, I have the privilege of serving as the president of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention.

I can’t begin to explain the many ways God has used that calling to get me out of my comfort zone and do something “dangerous” for the Kingdom of God.

While I was enjoying a comfortable pastorate, one of my ministry heroes, Jon Randles, jolted me by asking, “Jackie, when did you stop being dangerous for the cause of Christ?”

I challenge you to move outside of your comfort zone and never stop being dangerous. Rest assured that no matter what God is calling you to do that he can use you to shape the future of His kingdom here on earth.

Pastor What Would You Take to the Moon?


What in our DNA/Culture is Transcendent?

In other words, what in your current church culture will be able to survive on the moon? If everything changed in terms of size dynamic what would remain the same? No what would have to remain the same in order for you to grow? In order for you to have fun? In order for you to still work there?

Lyle Schaller, “The differences between congregations are becoming greater with the passage of time. The safe assumption today is that no two are alike. Each congregation has its own culture.”

Will Mancini in his book Church Unique, “Smart conductors discover the sound within their band and exploit it. First, a unique vision must ooze from the leaders life as well as the church’s leadership community. Second, this vision must create a stunningly unique culture inside the church that is inclined and motivated to penetrate the culture outside the church. In other words, reaching the surrounding community should be innate, driven by the church’s DNA rather than programming.”

Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, “Great executives do not create culture out of thin air, they dig down into the dirt of the existing organization and lift out what is good and unique and make much of it.”

5 Steps to Avoiding Ministry Burnout



I’ve been doing this ministry thing for over 30 years now. Wow, that means I’m getting old. It also means I started really young. And further it means that I’ve avoided the inevitable burnout that plagues so many in the ministry. (Or that I lived through a few seasons of burnout and lived to tell about it.)

Reflecting back, I want to offer these five thoughts on avoiding burnout and finishing strong.

  1. Start with the end goal in mind – We always do this when we plan big events. We start with what we want the event to be and then work backwards applying numerous drop dead dates for assignments to be accomplished. It’s a great way to plan for events but it’s also a great way to plan your ministry. How do you want to finish? When do you want to finish? What do you want to be remembered for? Most important what disciplines will you need to apply along the way in order to realize your desired end?
  2. Enjoy the journey – We have often said that the next stage of church life won’t be better it will just be different. Develop the mindset that each phase of ministry is the best phase. Remind yourself often of what the Bible says about the value of contentment.
  3. Invest in relationships – In the end you won’t remember nor will you be remembered for the sermons you preached. However, your entire ministry will be shaped by the people you helped, the staff members you mentored, and the relationship you developed.
  4. Have a hobby – There has to be more to life than your work. In ministry it’s hard to divide our professional and personal lives. Many times people will make us feel guilty when we do.

    However, don’t let people rob you of your humanity. Have a hobby – it’s better than a heart attack!

  5. Most of all stay close to God – This is most important. In ministry we can easily confuse work and worship. You must stay fresh. You must meet with your God. Remember that “In His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalms 16:11 – That sounds like a great defense against burnout!


Reserved for the Pastors Wife


I inherited this sign from some disgruntled staff members who handed it to me my first day on the job. They had pulled it down from the parking spot that had been traditionally reserved for the Lead Pastor.

I thought it was funny so I mounted it above the toilet in my office restroom.

However, eventually with some minor adjustments (the red paint) it made its way to my garage in front of where my wife parks her car.

But the Pastors wife needs more than reserved parking from her husband.

Pastors you need to…

  • Reserve your best time for her

I get it – you’re a pastor with a busy schedule. And if your church is growing you’re schedule is even busier. Add to that children and their activities and the task of finding time for the “wife of your youth” can seem daunting.

But at all cost don’t just give her the leftovers. Make your time with your wife job number one. More important than your most important task at work, more important than even time with your kids is time with your wife.

Time alone with your wife is the fuel that keeps a marriage humming.

  • Reserve your best praise for her

We Pastors have to be encouragers.

We encourage our staff. Cheering them on when they do well.

We encourage our church. Championing them every chance we get. Often you will see us Pastors tweeting out that we love our church.

But personally I don’t praise my wife like I should. However, she deserves my best praise and most heartfelt encouragement.

(So let me just say Tonya – you rock!)

  • Reserve your best dreams for her

Most Pastors are dreamers. We love to cast vision and get people to follow it.

However, your best dreams should be reserved for your wife. What dreams are you casting for you and her? What vision do you have for your future together?

The life of a Pastors wife is hard work. They have to share their husband with a thousand different thoughts and a thousand different people. So make sure you reserve the best of who you are for her.




The Placebo Effect


The hit our culture has taken by the dismantling of absolute truth is far greater than we thought. We originally believed that it’s only target would be religion and the institutions that adhered to it.

However, it has now trickled down to places I suspect we never saw coming.

You see the fruits of the war on truth in innocent enough sounding statements…

“It’s ok it really wasn’t your fault.”

“The game was rigged against us. It was all the referees fault, or the coaches fault or the fill in the blank. Because it’s never your fault you went 0-5 with three errors.”

“These test just don’t take into consideration my child’s unique abilities.”

“This may not work for you but I think it helps me.”

“That’s how I feel and that’s all that matters.”

Empirical truth lies slain in the street. We now routinely function socially, physically, scholastically, and spiritually as if there is no acceptable, provable norms for society.

The result? The placebo now has equal standing with the provable.

What Is the Placebo Effect?

“Sometimes a person can have a response to a placebo. The response can be positive or negative. For instance, the person’s symptoms may improve. Or the person may have what appears to be side effects from the treatment. These responses are known as the “placebo effect.”


Yes, it’s true there are some verifiable benefits to a placebo. It goes back to the whole mind over matter thing. And that works until the matter in a given case is a cancerous tumor and must be surgically removed.

We live in a world of short-lived placebos that promise great things but overtime fail to deliver substantial results.

Maybe, you have opted for a placebo like cure for your marriage. Replacing fantasy for genuine intimacy.

Perhaps, you’ve bought into a placebo like parenting plan. Replacing love and discipline for excuses and justification for bad behavior.

Maybe, your health is struggling because you thought the latest fad could replace healthy eating habits and exercise.

The root cause of all this is the assault on truth. If nothing is absolutely true than everything is true. You get to “fabricate” your truth. Creating a brand of designer truth that works for you.

The problem is your designer truth never stands up in divorce court, the laboratory, or in the house of God.

May we not be fooled and “lead astray by every wind of doctrine” Paul said.

In the end remember that you are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own Bible. And we could go on to say you are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own conclusions.

Is it Worth it to Serve Jesus?


Look at the question of the Psalmist in Psalms 73:13, “Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?”

Have you ever asked God a version of that question? Is it worth it to follow Jesus? Is it worth it to sacrifice for the cause of Christ?

Some that are reading this blog have accepted Christ as your Savior and you have been trying to live for the Lord, and it seems like everywhere you turn you have problems and conflicts and difficulties. Then you look at the wicked and the ungodly around you and they seem to prosper.

Has it ever seemed to you, for instance, that the ungodly get the best jobs? Has it ever seemed to you that perhaps the ungodly drive the biggest cars and live in the finest houses, and that somehow they don’t have the problems that God’s people seem to have?

Everything seems to go smoothly with them, and yet you are not having a very good time of it.

You may have come to the conclusion down in your heart, though you may not have put it in print like the Psalmist did, that it really is not worth it to live for the Lord. It really doesn’t pay to serve Jesus.

I want you to notice what the psalmist does. He says in Psalms 73:16, “When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless.”

In other words, there are some perplexities of life which the human mind cannot deal with. There are some issues that are too painful for the human mind to contemplate.

Then he says in verse 17, “until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny.”

The psalmist decides that he will go to church. He decides that in the sanctuary of God he will bring these problems before the Lord. He will go into the house of God; and in the house of God, he will look for an answer to the prosperity of the wicked, why good things happen to bad people and the persecution of the godly, why bad things happen to good people.

The reason God’s people come to His house is they want to hear what God says in His Word. They want an answer from heaven. They want some answers beyond what their own minds are able to conclude.

So this Sunday we will wrestle with this big question in the house of God, “Is it worth it serve Jesus?”

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”


In the book of Ecclesiastes – Solomon sounds like many people today. People who are wealthy that end up in Betty Ford. People who have access to it all but have no access to peace and purpose. People that are constantly hungering and thirsting for more, more, more – but who have little to show for it.

Oscar Wilde – said of his life at one point, “I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.”

Get this – “Living for your own pleasure is the least pleasurable thing a man can do; if his neighbors don’t kill him in disgust, he will die slowly of boredom and powerlessness.” – Joy Davidian in SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN

I think that’s what Solomon is saying. And remember Solomon is trying to warn us to not make the same mistakes that he did. This whole book is a negative apologetic –warning us not to go down the same paths he went down.

Gone Fishin’



Gone Fishin’
This morning I was reading in my quite time John 21. In this passage Jesus has already been crucified and resurrected – yet the disciples didn’t know what to do next.

So Peter in typical Peter-fashion says in verse 3, “I’m going fishing.”

Peter doesn’t strike me as the sort of guy who could just sit around and do nothing. He had a history of impatience. So he figured why not go fishin’.

What strikes me in this story is the response of the other disciples. They respond by saying, “We’re coming with you.”

There are two types of people in the world.

  1. Those that say, “I’m going fishin’” and his friends say, “Good luck, I hope you catch something.”
  1. Those that say, “I’m going fishin’” and his friends say, “We’re going with you.”

The latter is the stuff of leadership. Peter was a natural born leader. Jesus knew this and put up with all his stuff in order to groom him to lead the movement after He was gone.

Leader – what are you leading others to do. Most likely they are doing what you are doing.

That’s why Jesus tells Peter in the end of the chapter too…

  • Love me
  • Follow me

As leaders when we do this other people will also. Instead of just going fishin’, let’s love and follow Jesus. When we do others will follow!

A Thousand Lost Golf Balls



A Thousand Lost Golf Balls

In the land of lobelias and tennis flannels

The rabbit shall burrow and the thorn revisit,

The nettle shall flourish on the gravel court,

And the wind shall say:

“Here were decent godless people:

Their only monument the asphalt road

And a thousand lost golf balls.”

  • T.S. Eliot


Does that sound like the master planned community you live in?

Does that sound like Arizona?

More importantly does that sound like your life?

There has to be more to life than just chasing after lost golf balls!

Life must have more meaning than this.

In Ecclesiastes we find Solomon searching for the meaning of life and in this search he reminds us that, “God has put eternity in our hearts.” Ecc. 3:11

God has made you for more than golf, tennis and a few random pleasure points. He has made you for a purpose.

Life is all about living out that God ordained purpose.

Augustine said, “He who has God has everything. He who does not have God has nothing. He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God and has nothing.”