Discipline

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

At Team D’s* last major planning meeting, we read through the Book of Titus, a letter from the Apostle Paul to a young leader named Titus. There was a ton of good stuff in there, but one of the things that stuck out to me was Paul’s comment that an overseer must be disciplined.

I’m not disciplined. I don’t mean that I’m a hoodlum. I mean that I don’t lead an ordered, structured life.

This is a problem. I need to have the discipline to get up early to read my Bible, because I know I won’t do it at night. I need to have the discipline to exercise, because that triathlon is looming, and I’m not ready.

In the last few posts I’ve talked about how at NCC we’re believing God for a piece of property so that we can better serve God’s kingdom. And my wife and I are also looking purchase a house. While plans can always change, we see ourselves in DC for the foreseeable future. We’d like to have a family here, and in the meantime, we want to be able to use our house to entertain out of town guests, help out friends who need a place to stay, and share our lives with those around us.

Thoroughly confused as to how these relate? Wait for it…

Last Sunday, Pastor Mark preached on the story of Jericho, where the Israelites marched around the city of for seven days before God gave it to them. PM also talked about praising God for the things He’s done, even when from a human perspective it doesn’t seem as if He has yet done them.

That Sunday afternoon and every morning since then, I’ve ridden my bike around Capitol Hill (where we’d like to live), praising God, believing that He will provide the right house for Rachel and I. We’ve put offers in on three places that didn’t work out, and as difficult as that has been, I believe that God has something better in store for us.

I’ve also been stopping at the property that NCC is attempting to purchase,# walking around it, and praising Him for providing it.

It has been a great experience and one that taken some discipline. Getting up at 7 AM to ride in 45 degree weather doesn’t come naturally, but it’s more than worth it. It has also taken some discipline to stay on task. I’ll be honest, some days I’ve done a fair amount of road raging when I should have been praising.

I’m planning to finish tomorrow by circling Capitol Hill 7 times. (This time in a car, it’ll be over 50 miles!) I’ll also be walking around NCC’s new property 7 times, praising God for it.

*NCC’s Discipleship Team
#At least, I’m pretty sure it’s the right property. I know I’m at least in the right area :)

Miracles

Here at NCC we’re in the middle of a sermon series called Miracles. There have already been some incredible stories of the things God has done. He’s provided over $15k for an orphanage in the Congo and made amazing financial provision for one of our unpaid interns.

When we started this series, I didn’t really have a miracle I was praying for. Sometimes I have a hard time getting in line with these church-wide things. It’s not an attempt at rebellion or arrogance (although it’s probably at least a mild form of both). In this case, there just wasn’t anything I felt like I needed a miracle for. I have a great wife, just got a great job, am in need of nothing, and feel like I’m spiritually in a much better place than I’ve been in a very long time, maybe ever.

But then Pastor Mark said something that really struck a chord in me. He told us to be a part of other people’s miracles. So that’s what I’m praying for. I’m praying that God would use me to bless others.

Since then, I’ve found some places where I could use a miracle and have even experienced one, but more on that later.

A Quick Personal Update

I’m about to start a series of posts on some things that God is teaching me and the good things that He is doing both in my life and here at National Community Church, but first I need to put it in the context of some recent life events.

  • In September I finished my year as an intern at NCC.
  • I spent six months working on some web projects and playing online poker.
  • In January I was diagnosed with diabetes.
  • In March, I was hired for a permanent position at NCC. I’m now coordinating logistics for our small groups. And I’m still searching for a good title. Let me know if you think of anything!
  • Rachel & I are looking for a house, we’ve put in three offers, had one accepted, and backed out after the inspection.

More on most of this stuff later.

What a Day

I’m heading out to grab lunch and then on to the Lincoln Theater for our All Church Celebration. If you’re an NCCer, you really should come out. For those of you who aren’t, for the first time since National Community Church went multi-site, we’re having a unified worship service for people at all of our locations.

I’ve been helping to coordinate logistics, and I’m super-excited about it. If you have a minute, would you say a prayer for the service. My desire is that more than anything, God would be glorified. I would much appreciate it if you could also pray for me. I’m feeling a bit under the weather, and after a long night tonight, I have to come home and pack for a mini-conference/roundtable/seminar that I’m going to in Dallas. It’s a great week, but it wasn’t a great week to get sick.

Anyway, hope to see you all tonight!

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Rethinking Small Groups Coaching – Operation KABOOM!

As many of you know, until recently I was on Team D (the discipleship team) at National Community Church. For several years we’ve had a system of small groups coaches in place to help guide our small group leaders.

We’ve gotten much, much bigger as a church since we implemented that coaching system, and our small groups strategy has changed radically. Heather Zempel, our Discipleship Pastor, decided that it was time to rethink how we do small group coaching, so she commenced “Operation KABOOM!” In other words, we’re blowing up the old coaching model and building a new one from the ground up.

I’m excited to be able to be a part of strategizing our new coaching system. We had our first big team meeting tonight, and it was very insightful to hear from some different folks on coaching/mentoring/leading from a number of different approaches, from the military to sports coaches to parenting, just to name a few. We also looked at some biblical examples of discipleship.

My plan is to discuss some of the topics we covered here in the coming days.

Whirlwind Week

I guess I should begin at the beginning.

On Sunday I finished up my time as a Protege at National Community Church. It was a year of ups and downs for me personally, but I learned a ton. If you’re looking for some good ministry experience, good people, and a good city, you should check it out and I’d be happy to talk with you more about it. I especially recommend Team D (a.k.a. the Discipleship Department, a.k.a. people who work on small groups).

On Monday I launched a new website, but more on that later.

On Monday night Rachel and I walked by a house that she had seen for sale online. The man selling it happened to be sitting on his front steps, so we asked him if we could take a look around. It was a great deal, and we decided to see if we could buy it, so I spent the next two and a half days applying for loans, running numbers, etc.

On Wednesday night I won $40 playing poker.

On Thursday morning I was working on getting pre-approval letters. Around 11:40 I checked the house listing again, and they had received multiple offers and weren’t accepting any more.

Whew…

I’m frazzled. I think I’m busier this week than I was when I was working at NCC. Ah well, back to work on the website.

The Faith of Stanley Tam

Yesterday at NCC we had the amazing opportunity to hear from Stanley Tam. Mr. Tam is a 93 year old businessman who has spent himself in God’s service. He made God the senior partner in his business, signing over 51% of the stock in his company to God… and then later signing over the rest. As a result he has given over $100 million to the Kingdom.

Mr. Tam is a man with incredible faith. He told one story about a business trip he took. He expected to be paid during the trip, but the company was unable to cut him a check. He was 180 miles from home with two gallons of gas and thirteen cents when God told him to start home. Not knowing how he was going to make it, he obeyed God. Along the way he picked up a hitchhiker who was able to buy them enough gas to get home.

“If I hadn’t started on my two gallons of gas and 13 cents, I wouldn’t have gotten home.” He said that the greatest lesson of his Christian life is that God has hitchhikers along the way to meet our needs.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we never fail in human terms. I believe that God is as concerned with our journey as He is with our destination. Sometimes God has plans for us that require detours, redirections, and out-and-out failures, but there is comfort in knowing that He is always there.

The Come to Jesus Meeting

Altar calls aren’t something we’ve done very much in recent years here at NCC, but they’ve been happening a lot more recently. We’re in a place where we’ve been challenging people to make a decision to put Jesus in charge of their lives. Over the coming days I’ll be going through the Gospels looking for stories of those who decide to follow Jesus. I’m excited to read the stories of those early believers.

As Mark, our senior pastor, put it, we want to help people to start a journey, not just raise a hand during a service and go on with business as usual. We are commanded to make disciples, not “get converts.” Disciple implies relationship and committment. There is a conversion experience, but we are called to a journey of faith with Christ and fellow believers, not just a one time intellectual act.

Shaun Alexander Speaking at NCC This Weekend

This weekend we’re beginning our Influence series at NCC. We’ll be hearing stories of how Christ followers have used positions of influence to make a difference.

Our first speaker is 2005 NFL MVP Shaun Alexander. He’ll be speaking live at Ebenezers Coffeehouse at our 5 PM service on Saturday, at Union Station at our 9 AM service on Sunday, and at Georgetown at our 10 AM service on Sunday. He’ll be on video at our other services and locations.

Hope you can make it out. If you come to our Union Station location, be sure to say hello!

UPDATE: Know someone who might be interested in this? Send an evite to a friend!

Blessed

Today was a busy day. We had to pack up all of the stuff for Easter Eggstravaganza tomorrow, as well as prepare for the Good Friday services tonight. I’m not sure exactly how they got the time off of work, but we had a few great guys helping us out. If it weren’t for them I’d probably still be at the office, and by “at the office” I mean “loading a truck.” We’re blessed to have such great people at National Community Church.

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