Sunday, September 26, 2010

“Crossing the Rubicon”
Billy Mitchell

The crossing of a small stream in northern Italy became one of ancient history's most pivotal events.

It was January 49 BC, Caesar was staying in the northern Italian city of Ravenna and he had a decision to make. Either he acquiesced to the Senate's command or he moved southward to confront Pompey and plunge the Roman Republic into a bloody civil war. An ancient Roman law forbade any general from crossing the Rubicon River and entering Italy proper with a standing army. To do so was treason. This tiny stream would reveal Caesar's intentions and mark the point of no return.

“Coming up with his troops on the banks of the Rubicon, which was the frontier of his province, he halted for a while, and revolving in his mind the importance of the step he meditated, he turned to those about him, saying: 'Still we can retreat! But once let us pass this little bridge, - and nothing is left but to fight it out with arms!'

Even as he hesitated this incident occurred. A man of strikingly noble mien and graceful aspect appeared close at hand, and played upon a pipe. To hear him not merely some shepherds, but soldiers too came flocking from their posts, and amongst them some trumpeters. He snatched a trumpet from one of them and ran to the river with it; then sounding the "Advance!" with a piercing blast he crossed to the other side. At this Caesar cried out, 'Let us go where the omens of the Gods and the crimes of our enemies summon us! THE DIE IS NOW CAST!'” -Suetonius was a Roman historian (taken from

There is something very powerful about that story and the idea of having a defined line that tells the whole world what you are all about. Imagine… crossing this little stream was going to inspire Caesar’s army to complete the mission at all cost (and possibly create fear from the opposing army). As far as I can tell there was nothing physically demanding about crossing this stream of water, but by doing so a story was told of the army’s intent. Crossing the Rubicon meant that there was something much worse than being considered an outlaw by your country. Life and death were no longer priorities, only the mission.

From my understanding this is what baptism once was and I guess still is in some parts of the world. Again, imagine living in a country that is violently opposed to Jesus and His followers. Think about what it must be like to have your country, your friends, and your family come after your life if you begin to follow Jesus. Thousands, probably millions, of Christians have been considered outlaws for following Jesus.

This is one of the reasons why Christ followers are to be baptized. It’s our Rubicon moment. Physically it’s a small action, but it sends a powerful message to the world around us. By wading into the water and ceremonially showing that the old you is dead and a new you has been born, you show the world that everything about you has changed. Self no longer matters. Defeat is not an option. You are a Jesus person and part of His bride and every moment is to be lived for Him and not yourself.

Honestly, I’ve made baptism pretty nice and peaceful. I’ve probably made it something it was never supposed to be. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like, but I’m praying and thinking of ways to remove the civility of baptism and infuse more of a “Crossing the Rubicon” mindset. May we never forget that we were made for war. May we never stop at a threshold because the world has told us to. May we cross streams, rivers, and oceans to show the world that nothing matters to us as much as fulfilling the King’s mission.

Billy and his wife Ellie live in St. Petersburg, Fl. They have 3 children, two twin boys, one girl and another blessing on the way. Billy helped me to transition to Port Saint Lucie, FL. He allowed me to rent his house when he moved to St. Petersburg, introduced me to other pastors and pretty much paved the way for The Well :)

Billy Mitchell
Suncoast Baptist Association
Church Planting Strategist
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Leaders Most Dangerous Thoughts

Leaders Most Dangerous Thoughts
Proverbs tells us, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he..."
As a leader, whether it is primarily your family or ministry; or both, your thoughts are usually torn in two directions. One direction is focused on your earthly priorities. The other direction is God.
Worry, anxiety, fear and doubt do not exist when our minds are stayed on God. Worry, anxiety, fear and doubt exist when we focus on our needs, failures and possible outcomes of the future.
Tuesday morning, I awoke at 4:30am thinking on possible outcomes for our ministry decisions, and things I could have said and done different Sunday night. I felt God speak and tell me that my thoughts are not toward Him, but toward this ministry. I felt the Lord say that your passion and engergy will flow from and follow your most dominant thoughts.
I was focusing on the faithfulness of people and unfaithfulness of people more than the faithfulness of God. I was focusing on how others viewed me instead of how HE viewed me. I determined that morning that I would focus more on HIS faithfulness and goodness instead of any situation or person; whether good or bad.
Our emotions will follow our thoughts.
What thoughts dominate your mind? What emotions flow from these thoughts?
What if HE dominated your mind? What if HIS great love for you and faithfulness toward you dominated your mind? What if HIS faithfulness toward the patriarchs in Scripture filled your mind?
How different would your day look?
You do have control over what you choose to think about or think on. Don't let your passion for your ministry and your thoughts about ministry ever be greater than your love for Christ.
Don't be balanced. Set your mind on HIM. Set your thoughts on HIM. Set your emotions on HIM.
A Leader's Most Dangerous Thoughts Are Those That Take His Mind Off the Goodness and Faithfulness of God.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: Ben Miller

"When Your Greatest Obstacle is God"
Ben Miller- Campus Pastor of RWOC of Asheville, NC

As a pastor and leader, I’m learning that God is not bound to my calendar and appointment book. In fact, many times He hates it because usually it’s nothing more than filled up space and personal agenda rather than living my life to be filled up by Him. But that’s another subject for another day.

In 2008, my wife and I were asked to be the campus pastors of our church, Redemption World Outreach Center’s, first satellite campus in Asheville, NC. Excitement began to grow as we anticipated a move of God hitting a region that is spiritually dry and desperate for rain. So, naturally our team began searching for a building to hold our worship services. On paper, we are a slam dunk. Several hundred people in our database already drive upwards of an hour to Greenville, SC (where RWOC is located). In our eyes, this process won’t take long to complete – we’ll find a place right away. Now, two years later, we’ve seen probably two dozen or more locations and are still without a building.

As you can imagine, I became pretty frustrated. For the better part of those two years, I didn’t weather the storm well. Here I was ready to step out in faith and be a part of something bold for God, and I couldn’t understand why He wasn’t letting that happen. So, I did what any person who believes in Jesus does in a time like this – I opened my Bible and went on a search for truth. So I want you to do that now. Stop reading and grab a Bible. Seriously, open to Acts 16 and read verses 6 through 10, spend a few minutes meditating on these words, and then come back.

Okay – so tell me, did this statement stick out to you as much as it did me? It’s in verse 6 where it says, “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit.” Not an angry mob of God-haters, not a bad decision in developing their leaders, and not a malicious, physical attack but rather a spiritual stop sign being held by none other than God Himself. Think about the reality of this for the Apostle Paul. The One who radically transformed his life on the road to Damascus, the One who he spent three years of One-on-one training with in the desert, the One who deposited an incredible, white hot vision to reach the Gentiles with the Gospel was now the barrier in his path to fulfilling that very same vision. Did God become a schizophrenic all of a sudden? Did He develop amnesia somehow and forget that He called Paul to reach these people? If not, then what in the world is He doing here?

Take this into your situation now. Is there anywhere in your life where you feel like God has promised you something yet you see no divine activity working alongside you? Is your circumstance like Paul’s here and it seems like God is actually preventing you from accomplishing your purpose? If so, then you have most certainly encountered frustration. Unfortunately, I believe most people surrender to this frustration rather than seek to understand its purpose and work it in their favor.

In my meditation with the Lord on this matter, He’s shown me three areas that blind us from discerning the ways of God in our life. Read the Scripture associated with each point and spend time allowing God to speak to you on this:
1)We forget God works in the fullness of time. (Galatians 4:1-4; Habakkuk 2:3)
2)When things aren’t working, we begin to assume control. (Phil 1:6; Rom. 4:21; Eph. 3:20)
3)We become “destination focused” & lose sight of our original call. (Mk. 10:35-38; Acts 16:9)

I’ve heard it said that expectation is the breeding ground for the miraculous. Well, I believe that frustration is the breeding ground for fulfilling our assignments in life. Any assignment worth giving your life to will have an equal amount of conflict also assigned to it. Don’t let the experience of frustration rob you of its benefits. The movement that is being birthed through your life right now is birthed through adversity. And it is the testing of our faith that produces patience in us (James 1:3).

Listen, a row boat can go through a tsunami as long as one thing happens - the water doesn’t get inside the boat. You can weather any storm in your life, even when God frustrates your plans and timelines, as long as you don’t let the storm of misunderstanding get inside of you. Your steps are ordered and He will birth this thing that beats so passionately inside of you. But He will do it His way and in His timing. Proverbs 4:7 says, “In all your getting, get understanding.” I pray God reveals that to you as you chase after Him to finish the work He’s begun in you.

Ben Miller, Campus Pastor of Redemption of Asheville

...Ben is a long time friend and college dorm mate while I was at Emmanuel College 2004-2007.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love and Church Planting Pt. 2- "All About You"

"Is It All About You?"
Do you ever talk to those people who you ask, "How are things going?" and they talk about their life, ministry or endeavors only to never return the question to you?

This part of love and church planting deals with 1st Corinthians 13:4-5, "Love does not vaunt itself or is puffed up, and does not behave unseemly."

How does "love" deal with starting a movement or planting a church?

The Greek here is amazing. It conveys this idea, "Love does not go around talking about itself all the time, constantly exaggerating and embellishing the facts to make it look more important in the sight of others..."

When we are starting a movement we are always ahead of some, behind most and running in the middle of the pack with many. Wanting to feel signifigant can cause us to show our "shiny armor" to others, as did Naaman, or exaggerate our experience to make ourselves look good.

I would probably retranslate this as, "Love is honest. Love shares its hurts as well as its joys. Love cares enough about others to encourage them and ask them how they are doing instead of talking about ourselves."

Don't make your movement all about you. The greatest way to grow as a leader is to ask good questions to others, care enough to listen and share in their joy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guest Blogger: Rick Kendall

Moving in the Unmovable

Guest Blogger: Rick Kendall, Body Network

The only way to have forward “movement” is on an “unmovable” base.

This is one of the greatest principles in genuine God ordained “progress”.

Hebrews 12:28 says: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:” In other words it is we who are MOVING in an unmovable Kingdom. Even what we refer to as a “move” of God is not God progressing, but Him moving us into what He’s already done. He is alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. God’s Kingdom is eternal but He encapsulates His purpose into a time frame to give reference points of progress (or literally mandates). Our mandates, assignments, and plantings are part of a much bigger eternal landscape that weaves together with other men and women of God to become a tapestry revealing the King.

That which we are “planting” today is in a much smaller and different form than it will appear when it comes out of the ground at harvest. Seeds are important, but many times new churches remain “seeds” refusing to change and transform into something much greater. The problem with that is that the purpose of the seed is to bring forth a destiny much larger than itself and in fact, that seed must die to that tiny “form” to produce. The “movement” of God going on underground is a miracle of transformation, not into becoming a bigger seed, but a fully transformed fruit.

A move of God is always underground, hidden in secret “ops” with inner growth until time for a manifestation of God when the plant shoots up through the ground. Some have referred to “movements” in church history as the great revivals produced, but those revivals were the result of the underground movement shifting the church world to new levels of progress in an unmovable Kingdom. Sadly some considered the “movement” to be an arrival and camped out in that spot and stopped “moving.” Often denominations were formed in a manifestation of God but the “move” to the next dimension was missed.

We are in a day where we have learned much and now are taking note that when a “movement” begins, it is not the “movement” that we focus upon, but the unmovable Kingdom that will keep us moving.

Dr. Rick Kendall, and his wife Liz, live in Port Saint Lucie, FL. They are the founders of The Body Network.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Love & Church Planting? Pt. 1

1st Corinthians 13 is one of those chapters that we use for weddings and other special times. As I was doing my Greek devotion this morning in 1st Corinthians 13, I saw that we could really use this for church planting or starting movements. Your movement may not be a church, or you may be alongside of a leader who is planting a church. These next posts should encourage you and help give you insight on how love is key to starting any movement, especially a church.

1st Corinthians 13:1- Love (agape) suffers long and is kind...

The Greek word here for love is agape. I think everyone learns that at some point. That is a "God type love" for a situation or person. It is sacrificial. So, as I write these next blogs, you will see this as the preface. So love means= the sacrificial love only God can produce in us. King James Version says, "Charity." Charity means to give with no hope of getting back.

Love suffers long:
makrothumia (Greek): Two words- makros: long and thumia: passion, will , desire or 'swelling emotions.'

When starting a movement we have to possess this type of love. We have to have a love that has the "patient restraint of anger" so we can weather the seasons that ministry brings us.

The picture here is a candle with a very, very long wick. The candle does not burn down quickly, but lasts a very long time.

The point is this: As you do ministry, raise a family, mentor people or pursue a career, you will have seasons where you are frustrated with your current situation and the response that you are getting from what you are putting into it. The love that God produces is a powerful love that waits patiently eventhough there are swelling emotions and even anger that arises.

"Kind" is the type of response you must give to these people or situations that are creating the frustration. That is surely where I need help!

You may be only hours or minutes from breakthrough. Don't ever let the question, "What if I would have waited longer?" haunt you forever.

Allow God to produce a patience in you where you have a long wick.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In my daily leadership devotional reading I came across some great principles from John Maxwell.

The shark tank is an important leadership principle. Sharks will only grow to the environment surrounding them. The funny thing is that our potential is a lot like the shark. We will only grow to the potential surrounding us.

The kind of environment that allows you to grow should like this:

1. Others are ahead of you.

2. You are still challenged.

3. Your focus is forward.

4. The atmosphere is affirming.

5. You are out of your comfort zone.

6. Others are growing.

7. There is a willingness to change.

8. Growth is modeled and expected.

Is your current environment producing this? Rate yourself on each level and see where you are at.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Evaluating Yourself

Leaders who start movements are reflective. They take time to reflect over the past year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, etc.

Your past is one of the best teachers you have on this earth. You do not grow by experience, but by evaluated experience.

I have been working on building a Core Team to start a church for about a year here in Port Saint Lucie, FL (2009-2010). I have taken time to do an evaluation of misconceptions, fears and my most effective abilities in the past year. This was very sobering. Most of us can easily tell others what to do without sympathy because we are not reflective of ourselves.

Through my reflective time I have been evaluating:

1. Fear #1 Insignificance in my purpose (forgotten by people and not fulfilling God ordained destiny)
2. Fear #2 Rejection by people (not good enough in speaking, leading, conflict, etc)
3. Fear #3 Hypocritical leader (not good enough, mistakes, etc)

Misconceptions or Wrong Mindsets:
1. I Can Build God's Church. The Lord adds to numbers. No man can have anything unless heaven release it to him.

2. I am Here to Please Men. It does not matter if I am approved by people. I am only here to please God.

3. Stability and Predicability Can Be Achieved Permanently. In church planting and bi-vocational ministry there are seasons of this, but I always have to adjust to the ebb and flow of a season.

4. I Know What I Need and Tell God. I have to know that God knows what I need and who I need. It is just as sovereign when He keeps people from me as when He brings them to me.

5. If I Do it Right- They Will Respond Correctly. People are people are people are people..... People will be people. They are dynamic, not static. You will handle certain situations correctly and it will still turn out negative in earthly terms.

These are my yearly evaluations. I am still reflecting on these.
Take time to evaluate your deepest fears. If you do not, you will be driven by inward fear instead of faith. Evaluate wrong mindsets that brought frustration.