There’s no correct answer

Posted: May 14, 2015 in Leadership

I was having a conversation a couple of weeks ago while serving at church and it was quite thought provoking.  The topic was the Holy Spirit… or should I say Holy Spirit.  That was the discussion.  One of the guys I serve with was talking about a Pastor he used to listen to just referring to the Holy Spirit as Holy Spirit in the frame of it being a name.  This Pastor’s point was that we don’t call Jesus “The Jesus” so why add it to Holy Spirit.  An example was “Holy Spirit told me to find peace.”

I was intrigued to say the least.  That takes things to a new level of personal.  If you eliminate “The” then you really are referring to Him in the frame of a name.  Say this out loud and stew on it for a minute or two – Holy Spirit and I were talking today.  Holy Spirit and I were talking today.

It’s different.  If you consider Holy Spirit to be God and Jesus, then indeed there is no “The” to go with it.  I don’t recall any text in the Bible not having “the” in front of it though.  A quick search proved that true and one example is John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

That confuses it even more by adding “the” to Father.  Yikes.  Matthew is the same way – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit  (Matthew 28:19); Mark too – I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit  (Mark 1:8).

I love the concept but it challenges how we speak on so many levels.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is just right.

I’m not sure what the correct takeaway is for this.  The more we discussed it, the more I liked the idea.  The more of the Bible I read, the more it contradicted the Scripture.  I’m not saying this Pastor is wrong.  Totally not going there.  The Scripture uses “the” so I will as well.

I don’t challenge the Word.  Where I think this Pastor was going is brilliant though.  He made it personal.  We don’t call Jesus “The Lord” because He is “Lord”.  You don’t call your dad “the father” because it’s impersonal.  He’s dad to you.  Jesus is Jesus to you.  Calling the Holy Spirit simply Holy Spirit makes it more personal.  For that, I like it.  If you were to call out “Holy Spirit I need you now” you wouldn’t start the sentence with a “the” and that’s the difference.  When it’s personal, when it’s close and when it counts most – He is YOUR Holy Spirit, not just THE Holy Spirit.

Comments are always appreciated.  I would love to hear some thoughts on this.  I didn’t write about this sooner because I really had to roll it around for a while and form an opinion.  I think we can all use little challenges like that.  I will likely never meet the Pastor that was the source of this conversation, but his words have triggered something.  That’s powerful.  Conversations shouldn’t always be black and white.  Sometimes we have to challenge others; challenge ourselves; open the Book and do a little homework.  Sometimes we have to think before we form opinions.  All of these are great things.

This Saturday

Posted: April 21, 2015 in Leadership

So if you’ve been around me at all in the last couple of weeks, you know Shelby has a big Woman of the Year event this Sat April 25th.  It benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  There will be live music all day, food trucks, raffles, corn hole – lots to do.  We will also have Alex’s Lemonade Stand for childhood cancer research and Be The Match bone marrow registry.  This will be THE festival of the spring and you don’t want to miss it.  FREE Admission doesn’t hurt either.

D9 Brewing is hosting it and they just started an event page so you can share it with friends.

https://www.facebook.com/events/741091446008752/

Our family will be there having fun with you.  Make sure you say hi 🙂

8.5x11NewPosterLeukemia

 

We are a church of ____

Posted: October 15, 2014 in Leadership

Goals and visions are part of any organization.  Whether it’s business, church, civic organization or even as a family – there is usually some semblance of both of these.  What gets me is when the two are confused as one.

So as far as the title, think about it this way… how would you fill in the blank?  We are a church of:  seekers / bringers / lost / redeemed / (enter some other churchy term).  There really isn’t a wrong answer unless it’s no answer.  When the church-goers don’t know the identity of their church, something may be amiss.  That’s where the vision of the church and the goals of the church come into play.  The people of the church should know what their church stands for.

So what is vision and what is a goal?  A vision by definition (ref. Merriam-Webster) is “something that you imagine; a picture that you see in your mind” in this context.  When the vision for a church is cast, the key to see it come to fruition of course is to share that vision with others.  You have to let people in your head a little basically.  That’s not a bad thing.  There’s a greater sense of ownership and buy in when the vision is shared.  It’s a unified approach to reaching it and that’s how the Church body can succeed.

A goal is defined as “something that you are trying to do or achieve.”  Immediately you can see a goal leaves room for failure by definition… “trying to do.”  We can and should have several goals in life, in work, in our family life – there really can be only one vision for each area.  The goals should be building blocks to move toward that goal.

So how about a little test?  If I were to say we want to reach 500 people per weekend, is that a vision or goal?  If we said we wanted to raise $5000, is that a vision or a goal?  In my opinion – those are both goals.  They may be on a path toward a vision; but a vision they are not.  What makes it harder for some to see the difference is when the goal is larger.  We want to reach 50,000 people per weekend or raise $500,000 for this cause.  Just because we add zeroes doesn’t make it a vision.  It’s just a larger goal.  50,000 people may be a step in the vision to reach the lost in state or region of the country.  The $500,000 may be a step in eradicating hunger in city.  The second part of each sentence is the vision.  That’s the share that is so important.

So reaching the lost or the eradication hunger are both fantastic visions.  Those will get people on their feet and out in the community working hard at those goals.  Those goals are still goals.  By knowing the vision, they can really see the bigger picture.  If all we said is we want to raise $500,000 people would look at us like we have 3 heads.  What are you going to do with that money?  The vision must be cast before the goals.

Something I think (and it may make some folks a little mad) is when a vision is met and you have hit the mark – it’s time to close up shop.  If you have ended hunger in your city you can’t just keep fund-raising for a problem that is gone, right?  So if you set a vision to have 50,000 people in your church each weekend and you get to 50,001 – your done.  Lock the doors and go do something else right?  Of course not, but if that’s the vision and not a goal, that’s what you are saying.  Either that or you just stop letting people in and keep your 50,000.  No more bringing people to church.  Forget Easter and Christmas – there’s no more room at the Inn. 

So this is my plea to leaders in church and in industry… have a vision that is perpetual and stay on course.  You can change your goals along the way, but by golly don’t change the way.  Jesus said it so well:  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6)  He surely isn’t going to change that.   

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8)

The Great Pumpkin (Debate)

Posted: September 19, 2014 in Leadership

Contrary to popular belief – I did not fall off the planet.  Sorry I have been slack in my posting.  Hopefully you are ready for what comes next 🙂

Fall is approaching and it makes us think of trees changing colors, pumpkin-spiced everything, and Halloween.  Well, for many just one or two of the three.  The debate is what took place in my head on my way to the office this morning.  That 1 hr. commute is good for some things.  You can be the judge on this one.

There really seems to be 2 schools of thought when it comes to certain things this time of year.  There are those that enjoy the season, including carving pumpkins, dressing their kids up, and just having a lot of fun in general.  There are others that keep a distance from holidays that stray from their beliefs with Halloween being one of the biggest.  I was a telemarketer in high school as a part-time job and I can’t tell you how many people would not buy our books because they had Halloween in them.  I didn’t understand it then.  I do now.

Let me ask a hard question – What teenager said they started using drugs because they dressed up as Darth Vader in 2nd grade?  It must be Halloween’s fault.  Okay.  That might be a little too strong of a start.  Let me back up a little.  Parenting is tough.  Our young lady is 6 months from her 18th birthday and we certainly have had our fill of tough decisions – many of which we probably got wrong.  Thankfully, she is a happy and Christ-centered teenager.  We thank God every day for that because we sure messed up along the way.  He didn’t though.  But if we did things differently, would she be this incredible?  Is it solely up to us to make all of those decisions, or should some come from her?  If so, at what point should her opinion matter?

There really seems to be more extreme than middle when it comes to a lot of things that really don’t make that big of a difference in my opinion.  If you are reading this you are probably a Christian and very well may have kids.  At some point you had to decide if Halloween, Santa and the Easter Bunny were going to be allowed in your house.  Most parents don’t ever actually decide.  They just “go with it” and in turn decide by not deciding.  Then there are ones that hold firm against them are very passionate about why they decided what they did.  I have respect for both I can assure you.

We were “go with it” parents for one big reason – I wasn’t a believer then.  By the time I was, our daughter had made her decision of faith at 10 years old and was on a great path.  Her opportunity to participate in all of the school fun, the parties, the dress up, all of it… it all allowed her to be socially woven with other kids and in turn, become an influencer.  I’m not saying that the parents that don’t allow their children to do this are bad.  I remember those kids when I was young.  Sadly, they always seemed separated from everyone else.  They were loners really.  The big question from this is – For someone to have a lot of influence, shouldn’t they be approachable?

Now “go with it” is far from the answer to parenting.  It was just how we handled that.  It would not have worked when Shelby was faced with a decision during her Freshman year of high school.  The small charter school she attended was really not serving her well in what interested her – art and pastry.  The huge high school one town over had one of the best art programs in the state.  We didn’t live in that district so there was that issue.  This is where my wife and I had a huge decision to make that would change Shelby’s path forever.  Would we be holding her back if we kept her at the charter?  Would we be foolish to consider the change of schools and all that we would have to do to get there?  In the end, it was a parenting decision and it was to move a town over and enroll her.

We weren’t the only family making this decision either.  Several of her friends were looking at moving to the public schools from that charter.  The difference is that they lived in their preferred school district – so they didn’t have to move.  I heard a lot of “they’re old enough to decide.”  Major decisions at 13 and 14 years old.  What happened later was interesting… the big school was a major blessing for us as well as a great prep for Shelby with college.  This high school has 2100 students.  The charter high school (at that time) had MAYBE 250.  Maybe.  She not only got an incredible art program, but the switch also exposed her to the hustle and bustle of a large campus – a great prep for a college campus environment in my opinion.  Her friends however were a little overwhelmed.  Some were ready to leave and go back to the charter.  Big decisions like this can be complicated.  The last thing we need are teenagers – hormonal, peer-pressured, oh my gosh teenagers –  making these decisions.  Good parenting means being good parents.  We can’t let our children make these big decisions, but they can have input.

So when it comes to holidays that we don’t necessarily agree with, or holiday traditions that are not aligned with our faith, is that where we flex our parenting muscle?  Will the impact of a Halloween mask or an Easter basket really unwind all the hard work we have done?   Or do we just let kids be kids when it comes to these things?  Usually around the age that they find out there is no Santa, or lose interest in trick or treating is when they really start soaking in the Gospel.  I love to see 5 and 6-year-old kids praying and talking about what they learned at church.  I think we all do.  We can all agree that it will still be several years before that truly sinks in and takes hold.  The memories of bobbing for apples, running around looking for eggs, that awesome costume party their best friend had… those memories stick around forever and help them socialize.

Like I said earlier, an approachable person has a lot of influence.  When a teenager says no to drugs in a group, it makes a statement.  When a college student prays for a friend at the coffee shop, it makes a statement.  When a group of football players kneel to pray over an injured player ON THE OTHER TEAM, it makes a statement… that MILLIONS will see.  Sometimes we just need to let kids be kids so they can enjoy community – and who knows – maybe change that community one day!

With all that goes into parenting, this helps it all make sense:

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.  (Colossians 3:21)

A child that missed out on the little things becomes discouraged.  That makes the big things harder to get across.  Lose the little battles sometimes to win the big ones.  You just might have a World Changer in the making!

#AmericanDream

Posted: May 6, 2014 in Leadership

Who doesn’t want to live the American Dream?  Okay, so I added a hashtag in the title.  That’s important to note since things that are on everyone’s mind should get distinction, right?  You have the #selfie and something called #ratchet.  Both have consumed the hearts and minds of teenagers and parents alike.  Not sure what ratchet is other than a wrench, but it must be important to get it’s own hashtag.

It’s funny how we get so caught up in the trivial that we really do forget that we are already living the American Dream.  Okay – you’re thinking I must be off my rocker.  The American Dream is to be an NBA star, a TV producer, have a successful business or star on a show like Jersey Shore right?  That’s not the life you have now so you still have a long way to go!  For someone who is hoping to come to America – the dream is to simply live without persecution and threat of harm.  We often misunderstand the dream to be rich, famous and a big house.  I mean people living in caves and hiding in basements (like many people in Syria, the Ukraine and other parts of the world) they just want to survive the day!  We could easily watch a day pass by without a care in the world.  Not every one has that luxury. 

The Pilgrims could be the fore-fathers of the American Dream really.  They got on ships and sailed for America in hopes to be freed from the politics and oppression of the British government.  The idea was that they would be free to practice their religion and raise their family without fear.  Of course going thousands of miles to a foreign country came with a new set of risks.  The rewards outweighed the risks or they never would have left.

I’m not saying all of that to get into politics or immigration laws…  This is solely for perspective.  As bad as we think it is at times, we are blessed.  We have little risk with the potential of some really high rewards.  The Beatitudes are a great reminder of this:

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.  (Matthew 5:3-12 NLT)

You see, we don’t have to be rich to inherit the rewards of Heaven for even the poor can.  We must realize our need for Him – not a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Even if we face some obstacles (call it persecution if you like) we know that the Kingdom of Heaven is ours.

If you are a little down in your faith or circumstances; if you feel like you haven’t met expectations or done enough lately… Be thankful and stay humble knowing you live in a place where you CAN live out your faith.  Your time isn’t up.  God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.  Thank God for that!

Acts and Actions

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Leadership

If you have been around me this time of year, you already know how much I enjoy Good Friday.  There are several reasons really.  I mean the significance of Good Friday in our Faith is HUGE.  The weekend that it kicks off and the life change that we get to witness through Easter is incredible.  It doesn’t hurt that I am off on Good Friday and that’s our family’s day to worship.

One thing that really resonates about Good Friday being such a celebratory day is that it is the day that God’s Son was sent Home.  It was that act of selflessness that set us free from bondage.  I am not saying that the Resurrection and Easter aren’t awesome – they are!  I am saying that Good Friday represents the Freedom for all mankind that came at the Cross.  That’s a really big deal to celebrate.

The title of this post really sends that home for me.  His act of selflessness allowed for the actions that would come… the torture and crucifixion; the ground shaking and His ascension; the Grace that now flows freely to us.

Whenever I use the word “acts” I always find myself looking at the Book of Acts to see if there is a correlation.  How cool is it that Acts starts right off with the Promise of the Holy Spirit.  I mean – that’s right on point:  In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach  until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit.  During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.  (Acts 1:1-3)

Those verses are followed by action – Jesus’ ascension and the Apostles going to work.  By work, I mean praying with the family of Jesus, replacing Judas, and oh – this little thing called the Day of Pentecost.  Action.  Actions-speak-louder-than-words kind of action… right?

But it all started with the Act.  His sacrifice for us.  His leading by example.  He set all of the actions in motion that followed.  So when you think of Easter and celebrate our Risen King, please don’t lose focus on what He had to do first.  The 3 days couldn’t have started without the first day.

Good Friday had to come first for us to have an Easter.  Have a great weekend.  Have a great time spreading the Gospel and loving on the surges in attendance that we see each year at this time.  Your act of kindness could lead to their action of standing up in faith at an altar call.  Acts and actions.  He is still leading by example!

365 days

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Community, Personal growth

For many of you today’s date doesn’t really stand out.  April 4th.  Not a special day on the calendar on your desk.  For the Purvis family (and those close to us) it is known as the day in 2013 that Shelby was diagnosed with leukemia.  On her Caringbridge earlier this week I noted how we aren’t really going to celebrate it.  I mean, yes, it is a day we will always remember.  Celebrate though?  Probably not.

What we’ve decided is to celebrate the young lady that is kicking cancer’s butt.  We are going out to dinner and we are celebrating her and how God is using her testimony to inspire many.  Celebrating the incredible overcomer that she is.  Celebrating the opportunity to be her parents and the joy we get from her.

Speaking of joy, what a glorious future she has in the short-term and long-term.  Just two weeks ago she was hospitalized for an infection and discussions of relapse really brought back a lot of emotion.  Fast forward 14 days and our girl was asked to prom.  We are excited!  That’s a fun part of high school life that we are thankful she can enjoy.  She is at the clinic today and will be discussing her next return to school.  Both of those pale in comparison to the one great Glory ahead:  Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.  (Romans 8:18)  We are seeing a heavy dose of His provision now.  I can only imagine what Glory will be like!

So reflecting back and looking ahead make for a fun weekend.  You may recall Shelby’s Make-A-Wish trip was a meet and greet with Gordon Ramsay and to eat at Hell’s Kitchen.  During a recent fundraiser event for Make-A-Wish we met Lou Petrozza – the season 4 Hell’s Kitchen runner-up.  He’s coming to the house this weekend to cook with us and undoubtedly have a great time.

We also have a cool fundraiser going.  It’s raffle to support Shelby’s continued care, as well as Make-A-Wish, Soul 139, Hope Cancer Ministries and In His Steps.  All of them are very near and dear to us.  Please help spread the word through social media, as well us consider trying your hand at the raffle.  Great Mother’s Day baskets await the winners.  Visit shelbypurvis.org for more information.

Thanks again for being such a great support network for the last 365.  We look forward to a great year ahead and a lot of shared memories with you!