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Overcoming insecurities in Leadership

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 by mikekeaton

Everyone has them!  Everyone struggles with them!  Insecurities!!  There is not one person that does not have some degree of insecurity.  Some leaders are very inward focused, sheepish, and intimidated by others.  Other leaders are very outward and loud and portray an “I’m large and in charge” persona, either way, the issue is the same….insecurity!

For a leader the overall, big picture, once and done solution for this issue is a leaders call from God!  Either I am secure in the calling He has given me or I am not.  Either I am secure in His choice and will for me or I am not.  Either my success, victory and peace rests in what He desires to do through me or I am not.  If I choose to focus on myself and what I don’t have or do have to be successful the end result is the same…insecurity.  But if I choose to fulfill His focus for me, then there is rest, peace, comfort, success and FREEDOM!!

Ezekiel chapter 2 clearly communicates a call of God on the prophets life.  When we follow these principles from this chapter of Ezekiel’s life, we too can have the FREEDOM to be who God wants us to be by FULFILLING exactly what He has uniquely called each of us to do:

1.  We must be Holy Spirit filled!  God filled Ezekiel and then He spoke to Him telling him what He wanted him to do  (“v.2 and v.4- the Spirit entered into me, and I heard Him, I send you to them and you shall say to them”).  We too must be filled by and with the Spirit of God if we want Him to speak to us and know what step to head in next.

2.  We must not be afraid!   God told Ezekiel to not be afraid of what the people would say or do. (v.6)  He told him to not be afraid of how they think about him or how they might “give him looks”.  God told him they were a rebellious people and because of that Ezekiel should expect them to talk about him and give him dirty looks and ignore him and what God is saying.  Are we any different?  Insecurity is a form of fear.  when we get all uncomfortable and start worrying about what the people are saying or how they are treating us and then we get all discouraged and down, then we are fearing the people more than fearing the God who called us and told us what to say.  Insecurity is a result of trusting in the wrong God, almost idolatry if you will.  The enemy is so deceptive in this way in our lives.  We must not allow the devil to steal anymore of God’s glory and just trust in the Lord, the one who called us and gave us the message we are to share.

3.  We must speak the message! God gave Ezekiel a clear message.  regardless if it was what the people wanted to hear it, Ezekiel was to be faithful to the calling from God.  Here lies great freedom and faith.  freedom, not insecurity, but freedom comes from doing exactly what God has told us to do regardless of what other people say or think.  Our faith grows too, because we are trusting in the Lord and His words and for Him to fulfill them.

4.  We must be paying attention and listening! (v.8) God told Ezekiel to “hear” what He said to Him.  Ministry is busy.  Life is busy.  I am pretty sure that the devil has his hands in this too.  The pastor of the church that helped us get started, Ken Adams, said this…”if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy”.  Busy-ness can be stimulating.  Also, busyness can be satisfying to a leaders pride.  But more often than we’d like to admit…busyness can steal our time from us spending time with the Lord in devotion, study, prayer, simple bible reading, basically, a quiet time!  The most important minutes of a leaders day, are the minutes he/she spends with the Lord talking to Him and “listening” to Him (Bible reading and prayer)!!

When God speaks, we listen, we obey, we say…there is no need to be afraid (insecure) about anything.  The chips have fallen, God’s will be done!! FREEDOM 🙂

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Back to the Future!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21, 2011 by mikekeaton

This is not my post, but i thought it was excellent and something i have been screaming about at our church for some time.  many disagree with me and i feel like its a fight, but they truly dont understand the true mission and purpose of why the church exists.

The article is pt. 1 of 2 from a guy named Mike Breen.  I got to hear Mike Breen of 3DM a few weeks ago and it really encouraged me to renew my efforts to lead our church -Back to the Future – ha, no really, going back to the original mission of our church IS the future of our church!!

enjoy the article titled: why the missional church will fail (there will be a link to pt 2 at the bottom)

…It’s time we start being brutally honest about the missional movement that has emerged in the last 10-15 years: Chances are better than not it’s going to fail.

That may seem cynical, but I’m being realistic. There is a reason so many movements in the Western church have failed in the past century: They are a car without an engine. A missional church or a missional community or a missional small group is the new car that everyone is talking about right now, but no matter how beautiful or shiny the vehicle, without an engine, it won’t go anywhere.

So what is the engine of the church? Discipleship. I’ve said it many times: If you make disciples, you will always get the church. But if you try to build the church, you will rarely get disciples.

If you’re good at making disciples, you’ll get more leaders than you’ll know what to do with. If you make disciples like Jesus made them, you’ll see people come to faith who didn’t know Him. If you disciple people well, you will always get the missional thing. Always.

We took 30 days and examined the Twitter conversations happening. We discovered there are between 100-150 times as many people talking about mission as there are discipleship (to be clear, that’s a 100:1). We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea how to be with the King. As Skye Jethani wrote in his Out of Ur post a little while back “Has Mission become an Idol?”:

Many church leaders unknowingly replace the transcendent vitality of a life with God for the ego satisfaction they derive from a life for God.

Look, I’m not criticizing the people who are passionate about mission…I am one of those people. I was one of the people pioneering Missional Communities in the 1980′s and have been doing it ever since. This is my camp, my tribe, my people. But it has to be said: God did not design us to do Kingdom mission outside of the scope of intentional, biblical discipleship and if we don’t see that, we’re fooling ourselves. Mission is under the umbrella of discipleship as it is one of the many things that Jesus taught his disciples to do well. But it wasn’t done in a vacuum outside of knowing God and being shaped by that relationship, where a constant refinement of their character was happening alongside of their continued skill development (which included mission).

The truth about discipleship is that it’s never hip and it’s never in style…it’s the call to come and die; a “long obedience in the same direction.” While the “missional” conversation is imbued with the energy and vitality that comes with kingdom work, it seems to be missing some of the hallmark reality that those of us who have lived it over time have come to expect: Mission is messy. It’s humbling. There’s often no glory in it. It’s for the long haul. And it’s completely unsustainable without discipleship.

This is the crux of it: The reason the missional movement may fail is because most people/communities in the Western church are pretty bad at making disciples. Without a plan for making disciples (and a plan that works), any missional thing you launch will be completely unsustainable. Think about it this way:Sending people out to do mission is to send them out to a war zone. Discipleship is not only the boot camp to train them for the front lines, but the hospital when they get wounded and the off-duty time they need to rest and recuperate. When we don’t disciple people the way Jesus and the New Testament talked about, we are sending them out without armor, weapons or training. This is mass carnage waiting to happen. How can we be surprised that people burn out, quit and never want to return to the missional life (or the church)? How can we not expect people will feel used and abused?

There’s a story from World War II where The Red (Russian) Army sent wave after wave of untrained, practically weaponless soldiers into the thick of the German front. They were slaughtered in droves. Why did they do this? Because they knew that eventually the German soldiers would run out of ammunition, creating an opportunity for the Red Army to send in their best soldiers to finish them off. The first wave of untrained soldiers were the best way of exhausting ammunition, leaving their enemy vulnerable. While this isn’t a perfect analogy, I sense this is a bit like the missional movement right now. We are sending bright-eyed civilians into the battle where the fighting is fiercest without the equipping they need, not just to survive, but to fight well and advance the Kingdom of their dad, the King.

The missional movement will fail because, by-and-large, we are having a discussion about mission devoid of discipleship. Unless we start having more discussion about discipleship and how we make missionaries out of disciples, this movement will stall and fade. Any discussion about mission must begin with discipleship. If your church community is not yet competent at making disciples who can make disciples, please don’t send your members out on mission until you have a growing sense of confidence in your ability to train, equip and disciple them.

Here are some questions I have leaders I’m working with ask regularly:

  • Am I a disciple?
  • Do I know how to disciple people who can then disciple people who then disciple people, etc? (i.e. does my discipleship plan work?)
  • Does our discipleship plan naturally lead all disciples to become missionaries? (not just the elite, Delta-seal missional ninjas)
click here for part 2

“Listen to me…!!!”

Posted in Discipleship, Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 by mikekeaton

“Listen to me, listen, and pay close attention” -Isaiah 28:23

I wonder how many times the Lord has to ask us, or in this case, order us to listen to Him for us to do so?  I am studying through Isaiah and was reading chapter 28 this morning and that question came to mind.  How many times does He have to tell us?  or ask us?

The Lord wants His people to follow Him and pursue Him.  He teaches us through His word…the same chapter, verses 10 and 13 both teach that the Lord tells us everything we need to know, He spells out His message to us, one line at a time, only if we would just listen!!

Many today say they are A.D.D and have difficulty focusing and reading!  I dont want to judge and they probably are, but are we A. D. D. because we have too much going on?  are we just too busy? too distracted?

We live in the most technically advanced culture ever and yet we are the most biblically illiterate.  How can this be?  why do so many “good christians” not read their bibles?  why do we not “listen” to our Master, our Lord?  How is it we can find time to “not miss an episode” of our favorite TV show in real time or with our DVR’s but we cant seem to be disciplined enough to sit at the feet of Holy Spirit and let Him “guide us into all truth” (Jn. 16:13)

I dont want to sound judgmental or make anyone feel guilty but followers of Jesus not being in the Word is something that bothers me terribly.  i wonder… has 2 Timothy 4:4 come true in our lifetime?

The discipline of purposeful pursuit through Bible intake is so simple to correct.  But we must be motivated by our desire to see the Lord, connect to Him, hear Him, draw near to Him, not just duty or obligation, that is not sustainable, we must be in a pursuit of love and sense our need for Him.

How?  once your motivation is what it ought to be, the mechanics well, its simple and it can be easy.

Read the Proverb chapter that is the same as the calendar date (April 12=chapter12), then do that same thing everyday and repeat it every month.  in a year, you will have read the book of Proverbs 12x and gained a ton of wisdom for everyday life from the wisest man who ever lived.  anyone need some wisdom by which to live?

Another idea is to systematically read through the Psalms.  Any plan is a good plan.  at our core, we are worshippers of God.  why not daily read the journal of one of history’s greatest worshippers?

Any “Bible reading plan” is good to follow and the internet is full of options.  you can even get the bible on your phone with an app and reading plans so you can access it at any time.

one last idea, pick a book of the bible and read one chapter a day and journal some notes following this plan using the acrostic S. O. A. P. (S=write one verse of scripture that jumps out to you; O=write one observation about that verse or the chapter; A=write one application to your life; P=write one simple prayer based on how God speaks to you)

i hope these things help you get motivated to “Listen to me, listen and pay close attention…the Lord will spell out His message [to you] one line at a time, a little here and a little there”

What is plan B?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2010 by mikekeaton

i am posting my notes from a message i shared with our church back in 2007.  seems like old news i know but really it’s not.  this message has been used by God to launch a focus and passion at our church ever since it was given.  many  people are no longer living for themselves and are giving their lives away for God’s Kingdom to love on the “least of these”.  i thought to share it again here for various reasons, but mostly b/c i think the Lord wanted me to b/c of the way He led and dealt with me and our staff and elders at a working retreat this past weekend.  i hope you enjoy it…if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them…blessings…

What is Plan B!

1 John 2:6 – Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. NIV

-I have been asked in recent months what is plan b if the old winn Dixie bldg. that we have been talking about leasing as a new worship space doesn’t work out.  What is plan b?

-this question has launched an avalanche of questions in my heart about the future of Crossroads.  Many of which I to this day still don’t have answers to.  There is a constant tension within me that never goes away.

-walking as Jesus walked has wide applications for us:  our strategy, our style of leadership and ministry= servant leadership, servant ministry…Jesus’ ministry was crowned with characteristics like compassion, mercy, forgiveness, love, grace, meeting needs, practical help and teaching.

-the plan b question has launched other questions, like where is Crossroads going to land as some sort of permanent home.

A week ago, pastor in our community told me to enjoy the temporary meeting location (school) as long as we could, he said, “once you get into a building, people have a tenancy to get settled in and to put their stakes into the ground”.

-as I drove back to work from that meeting I just cried.  B/c I in no way ever want to be settled.  I in no way ever want to feel like we have arrived or that we don’t ever have to work anymore  -now I just want you to know I am in no way interested in us ever getting a bldg. if we think for one minute that we have finally made it and we don’t need to work anymore.  -I am not interested in us having a bldg. that is just open one day a week for us to gather and worship.  How self serving is that?  It cannot ever be about us!!  This is why we are changing the name of the no more set up fund-no more set up is about us, so we don’t have to set up, but Reaching Walton, is all about reaching our community and we must start here, right here.

-as I said a few weeks ago we will never be rewarded with much if are not faithful with little.  We will never be rewarded with reaching unreached people groups on the other side of our globe, if we don’t reach those right here in front of us.  We must start here!!

Acts 1:8- But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” NIV

-we must have a strategy to reach our city, our county, our state, our world

-the plan b question also led me to ask, what is Crossroads Church going to be known for???  Are we going to be just another casual, contemporary church that has slick graphics and cool music, or are we going to be known as a church that is changing lives and destiny’s forever?

-what is our attitude toward reaching people?  We should want to help people realize God’s love and to see their lives genuinely changed forever!!  -we are a disciple-making church, which means we meet people where they are and help them take their next step toward God.  Everyone has to have this as their own personal mission– to be and build disciples.  -But!!!!  There are too many church people who are here for themselves.  Do you actually realize that there are people who think they were saved for themselves?!  They think the church is here strictly for them.  Such pride!!!???

-we have it all backwards, so many church people look for a church that is what they want b/c its all about them and when the pastor doesn’t preach a certain way or the church is going a certain direction they either threaten to leave or go ahead and leave.  “growing churches don’t try to keep people they reach people” Who were any of us saved for??  Were not saved for ourselves, Not for our glory but for Gods’  -so my logical question then is how do I glorify God– by giving my life as a living sacrifice to him, through a life of worshipful service– Jesus said:

John 17:4 – I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. -NIV

-we too will bring God glory on earth by completing the work he gave us to do.

-we must live with the attitude that if no one else will, who will?  we will!!!  We cannot depend on the church down the street to fulfill our mission, it is our mission, we must work at it, all the time, and unlike a mission trip mission, this one does not have an end date in this life.  It never ends.  We are always on mission!! -People matter to God, and we must pursue them b/c they need to know of His love.

-to do this we are going to have to get down and get dirty.  We are going to have to get close to people, and they are gonna smell, they are gonna be dirty, b/c their lives are gonna be all screwed up with immoral living, addictions, selfish marriages, messed up parenting skills, irresponsible with their finances, worldly values, bad habits, and foul language, and the list goes on and on…..

-if we are going to “walk as Jesus walked” we are going to have to have a ministry mindset like Jesus, one of compassion, care, and help for those who have no one pleading their case,  the ones that are close to the heart of God, b/c he mentions them over and over in the bible.  -if we are going to “walk as Jesus walked” we must minister to the ones that are close to the heart of God, the poor, the widows, and the orphans.

Deut 10:18 – He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.-NIV

Ps 68:5 – A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows , is God in his holy dwelling. -NIV

Deut 16:11 – And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name — you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you.-NIV

Isa 10:1-2 -Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,  to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. -NIV

James 1:27 – Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. -NIV

Lev 25:35 – “‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you. -NIV

Deut 15:11 – There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.-NIV

Prov 21:13- If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor , he too will cry out and not be answered. NIV

Isa 1:17 – learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless , plead the case of the widow. NIV

-I read this quote recently:

Dino Rizzo, Lead Pastor of the Healing Place Church, Baton Rouge, LA:

“if we are going to be like Jesus we… we have to really care for people, we have to be committed to helping the people who can’t help us, we have to be the real deal”

-he went on to say, and I love this:

“we believed early on that if we would take care of the ones nobody wanted, God would give us the ones everybody wants to have”

-to reach the ones that are close to the heart of God, we are gonna have to be ok with being up close and personal, we are gonna have to be like Jesus, we are gonna have to be willing to spit in the mud and pick it up with our hands and rub in someones eyes.  -in other words we are gonna have to be willing to get our hands dirty– you cannot make a disciple from a distance, its up close and personal it’s involvement in someone’s life, you got to get emotionally involved.

-the alternative is to sit back and be critical of others, judgemental, prideful, self-serving, all the things Jesus yelled at the Pharisees about!!!!

Realize you are the method! -there is no plan b, b/c you are it!!

Matt 28:19-20 – 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,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -NIV

Be the method -if we don’t, who will???  Who??  —you, me, us, we

-what I am talking about is going to take more, more from everyone.  More sacrifice.  More money, more time, more people, more commitment, more energy, more focus, more everything.  -making a disciple is not easy.  It is hard work, but nothing is more rewarding than to see a person that you are investing in cross the line of faith and then begin to grow.  -who is in your life that you are intentionally making a disciple of????  Face and a name???—are you authentic????

-we are at a turning point.  We must make a decision.  Who is Crossroads? What are you gonna be known for?  Not what is mike gonna do, the office or the staff, but you.  I want to make a difference in heaven.  I want to take as many people there with me as possible.  You need to make a commitment today!  Become a disciple maker of all people groups and more specifically the poor, widows, and orphans!!

Next steps:

1 – become a follower of Jesus, a disciple, today

2 – commit to prayer and fasting for the future of Crossroads

3 – give more of my time, treasure, temple and talents for the mission and vision

4 – start seeking to be discipled or disciple another person

5 – commit to helping crossroads figure out how to reach the poor, widows, and orphans

Pray for our Country!!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 by mikekeaton

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” -NIV; -Mark 3:24

I was watching the news this morning and listened to the spin doctors express their views on the economy, President Obama’s popularity, and the fight for the Senate and Congress between Democrats and Republicans that will all climax this November.

I will admit, I was troubled.  Not so much by the “news” related to all those issues but by the division of our country and they way elected officials are fighting for power.  I do not presume to be smart when it comes to politics, so there is a lot I don’t know, but, our country is in trouble.

We do have a need for politicians and the goals they have for the people of our cities, counties, states, and country.  But there is a greater problem here that goes way beyond a quest for power of control of “seats” that I don’t hear anyone addressing.  I am not surprised by that though, because the issue is primarily a spiritual one and since our country has separated politics from religious beliefs, then one can understand why this issue is not being addressed.

The issue is unity!  In the above passage, Jesus clearly states that we are in a bigger trouble than we are admitting.  we will not be able to stand over the long haul…not because we are broke, even though that will have an effect, but mostly because we are a “kingdom” divided and such kingdoms fail.  what a sad reality.

in a lot of ways we are hoping for the republicans or President Obama, or even Democrats, or some other entity (stock market, etc.), to make the difference for the long haul for our country.  Not going to happen!  since America has divorced itself from God, we have made money our God and no man can serve both.  “

“God and money are total adversaries.  It is totally impossible for anyone to be totally committed to financial matters and have a hope of any serious commitment to God”-Gordon MacDonald

When ever we have a surplus of money we:

1- are always on the cusp of drifting away from God.

2-we have less to pray for and less of a dependence on Him.

3-are tempted toward the “myth” of self-sufficiency.

4-are forever fighting pride and losing humility.

These thoughts from a book I am reading right now resonate with me and with what I listen and watch on the news as it relates to where we are in our country.  It’s disheartening!

We must pray and pray hard for our country, our leaders, and ourselves, to return to God so that times of refreshing might come – Acts 3:19

Prayer Retreat

Posted in Uncategorized on July 6, 2010 by mikekeaton

hey all, i’m out again a few days this week on a personal prayer retreat.  I’m seeking the Lord for wisdom and direction in my life and the ministry and leadership of Crossroads.

I welcome any and all prayers, Thanks!

MK

on mission in Romania!!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 13, 2010 by mikekeaton

don’t forget to check our teams blog site for daily updates!!

Mike