Tag Archives: God

The Pull Of Efficiency

I am currently reading Kisses from Katie and it is a good book. A very easy read written in a style that is close to daily journal entries. While the chapters are pretty much chronological, they are at the same time topical so it is an interesting format. The basic story describes Katie’s desire to, at first, visit Uganda which quickly turned into quite a bit longer.

Typically the chapters are encouraging but every once in a while there is something that catches my soul. Here is one of those statements.

There are still days when I walk through Masese and feel completely powerless and totally overwhelmed. The illnesses are more than I can treat even if I sit in the makeshift clinic in the back of my van for fifteen hours a day. Sometimes the sadness seems almost unbearable, the problems unsolvable, the wounds unhealable. This has taught me one of the greatest lessons: the tension between inefficiency and faithfulness. The assurance that I must obey and be faithful only to what he has asked of me, even when tangible, earthly results or successes are not seen.

How often do we put off doing things until we think they will be successful? Do we put off meting with that person at church you have been drawn to until you are more prepared to disciple? Do you put off starting the non-profit that you have been thinking about for years? Do we put off the next step that doesn’t look as sure as we would like?

Just some thoughts – wondering how that tension is working itself out in my life.

Selah

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Things I’ve Seen 5.30

As the Church Planting Intern for Maine I have been asked to help with the recently launched site for people interested in planting or interested in helping plant churches in Maine http://www.mainechurchplanting.com/. One of the ways that I will do this is to look through the various blogs out there for anything that would help the readers in any way. I thought I was supposed to do that THIS week however, we start the ramp up NEXT week. So, this is the week that was that didn’t get was there, but is was here. Got it?

The first is written by Chuck Lawless from Thom Rainer’s site. 5 years ago I would not have even read anything by a southern baptist, and here I am following them on twitter and referencing blogs. This s a great post about ‘Praying Evangelistically’. As you are praying for the souls of people in your town, keep these ideas in mind.

The second is from a bit of an unlikely source but I do think that there is much to say here. I am an insurance guy by day and I have taken to reading various business journals to start my day. This one jumped out at me in the context of planting a church. If you are a church looking to send out people or a core group looking to solidify your goals, take a look and let me know what it makes you think of. Which aspect of church planting do you feel this most directly speaks to?

The third is from the Gospel Coalition. As you are looking to reach people in your community, please make sure that you are acknowledging those who WILL see things differently than you. I know that this is a specific way that I tend to struggle. I am absolutely guilty of thinking in ways that can discourage an artist. Artists can and should help bring us to the throne of God on a regular basis. How can you include instead of exclude?

Well, there you go. The week that was. Let me know what you think.

-Selah

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What Stories Do

This was sent to me in response to my last post. What a great follow-up to that idea. Thank you Lori.
The original story can be found here.

What Stories Do

by 

Almost overnight, my eight-year-old niece went from being a vivacious little girl who sang her way through life—as if she were singing the soundtrack of her own life the movie—and became a frightened, withdrawn child who spoke so softly you could barely hear her. It was as if she were literally losing her voice, losing herself. And then we found out she was being bullied at school.

Later, she told me that she thought she wouldn’t get in trouble if she tried not to be herself. It broke my heart, and I wished she had a book to read before school to hear what God says about her, not what those bullies were saying about her. So I thought I better write one—it’s called Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, and it has become a book of hope for children.

Children look to us for everything. But in all that we’ve given children, have we forgotten to give them hope? Have we left them in despair, looking at what they should do but don’t? Looking at who they should be but aren’t? How, then, do we give hope to children?

By helping them take the focus off themselves and put it back on God where it belongs. By telling them truths such as these:

God holds the oceans in the palm of his hand. If he can hold the oceans, he can hold you. (p. 106)

If God cares for the tiniest sparrow— how much more mus t he care for you, his child? (p. 152)

If Jesus can calm a storm on a lake, he can calm the storm in your heart. (p. 181)

God sees not just who you are— but who he is going to make you. (p. 145)

We give hope to children when we tell them what matters most.

They don’t need to be told to try harder, believe more, or do better. That just leaves them in despair. Taken by itself, the moral code always leaves us in despair. We can never live up to it. We don’t need a moral code—we need a Rescuer.

When I go to churches and speak to children, I ask them two questions: First, “how many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you?” They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them. Second, “How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you?” They look around and again raise their hands.

These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible, and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all. They have missed what the Bible is all about. They are children like I once was. I thought God couldn’t love me because I wasn’t doing it right.

How, then, do we help them? What can we do? We can teach children that the Bible is not about them.

The Bible isn’t merely about them and what they should be doing. It’s about God and what He has done. It’s not merely a book of rules telling you how to behave so that God will love you. It’s not merely a book of heroes that gives you people to copy so that God will love you.

Most of all, the Bible is the Story—the story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them. And in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost Him— God won’t ever stop loving His children with a wonderful, neverstopping, never-giving-up, unbreaking, always, and forever love. Are we telling children the Story—or teaching them a mere lesson?

My niece didn’t need another lesson. What she needed to know was that she is loved—with a wonderful, never-stopping, never-giving- up, unbreaking, always, and forever love. What she needed was to be invited into the Story. What she needed was to meet the Hero and become part of His magnificent Story. That is because the rules don’t change you. But the Story—God’s Story—does.

How, then, do we instill a love for God in children? Simply by telling them the Story—the Story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them. By telling it well. Telling it faithfully. Telling it simply. Telling it without dumbing it down. Telling it without explaining it to death. Telling it without drilling it down into a moral lesson.

Stories don’t tell the truth confrontationally. They don’t coerce you. They don’t argue with you to believe them. They just are. The power of the story isn’t in summing it up, drilling it down, or reducing it to an abstract idea. The power of the story isn’t in the lesson. The power of the story is the story.  (Emphasis mine)

When God sent the prophet Nathan to King David (2 Sam. 12:1-4), Nathan didn’t confront David with a sermon about his sin but told him a story. David didn’t see it coming. The story got by his defenses.

That’s the thing a true story does—it doesn’t come at you directly and raise a wall of defense. It comes around the side and captures your heart.

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The Morning After

Yesterday was not a dream. It seems that the whirlwind that was my April 5 is now gone. Dad is sleeping more peacefully and soundly then he has in more that 2 weeks. The people here at the Gosnel House are great as they care for the families and patients alike.

There were quite a few people in here last night and I know that my father appreciated it.

The question “why us” briefly popped up in my head last night after I was left here alone with my Dad. The Holy Spirit quickly answered with, “why NOT you?” Darrin Patrick quoted Elizabeth Elliot yesterday when he said, ” God will not protect you from anything that will make you more like Jesus. ”

When we view every situation as good or bad, we tend to leave God out of it. When God’s grace shifts our thinking on these matters, we see every situation as not good or bad, but as an opportunity to give God more glory for what He alone has already done.

My father showed me the importance of daily communion with God. He showed me the importance of a local church body. He is currently showing me how to ” go out on top ” by taking care of the things to be cared for and not focusing on self. Up until his last coherent moment, he was trying to make sure Mom was taken care of.

In the world that we live in, it is not often that a man like me can look back at such a constant role model in his father. For that I am grateful. God deemed it necessary to be born unto Donald L Coldwell and I thank God right now for that decision of God’s.

I love you Dad. Soon you will be free of all disease and will be in your new body throwing the many crowns you have earned at the feet of Jesus.

Selah

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Church Planting Intern

In February of 2013 I accepted a position as a Church Planting Intern in Maine. This position is a one year contract where my responsibilities will cover a wide range of duties. Ultimately in the coming year I hope to catalog the year as I learn, study, and minister in this way.

The first book on my list to read this year was Church Planter by Darrin Patrick. This was a great primer to the seriousness and specific nature of a church planter. This book is divided up into three sections focusing on three aspects of a planter. The Man, The Message, and The Mission. Interestingly enough, it was the Preface that I remember the most. This is where Darrin details a prayer that he prays with his son that has me thinking of how I can pray specifically for my sons and daughters as they grow.

God, make me a man with thick skin and a soft heart. Make me a man who is tough and tender. Make me tough so I can handle life. Make me tender so I can love people.God, make me a man.

I want to create one for my daughters as well, frame them, and hang them in each bedroom. I have been challenged to be more purposeful in how I pray for and with my children.

Without going into great detail about every chapter I will say that Church Planter IS NOT a how-to book on plating a church. This is a gut check for any man looking to plant a church. It is a clear calling to the specific message of the saving power of THE Gospel of Jesus. At the end of each chapter there are very helpful questions designed to bring about introspection and in every case they worked for me.

As a CPI in Maine I do not feel called to plant a church right this second. What I DO want, is to help plant churches. This will end up looking like nothing I had planned, but I know that God has a specific plan for the coming year.

Please join me/follow me/encourage me as I take the next year and open my heart to God. Here is a promotional video for Church Planter from back when the book came out in 2010.

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Hiking in 2012

In 2012 I am going hiking.

“Brilliant post Don, absolutely brilliant!” Yeah I know. Here’s the deal. I started Bible college in 2000 because no other school would accept me. One semester into it, I wanted to be a pastor/teacher/student of the Bible. My life has been a working towards that goal. Every job I have had was a step towards that goal, not a place of ministry. Sure I shared the gospel with people I worked with, but it wasn’t ministry to me. My life has been the pursuit of vocational ministry and until recently, that was my calling. Well, I say calling but it was actually my idol. You see, anything we put as ultimate other than God is idolatry. I sacrificed my family at the altar of vocational ministry. I sacrificed my jobs at the altar of vocational ministry.

In Genesis 22:2 God calls Abraham to climb a mountain and sacrifice his love. His son that he had waited for. God promised that he would raise up a nation from his offspring Isaac, and then asked Abraham to kill him.

God is calling me to go hiking with my idol vocational ministry and kill it. This year I’m going hiking.

Here is the hard part.

He might not provide a ram in the bushes.

Sometimes it is easy to act when we see a picture in the Bible already. We hear preachers ask us if we are willing to give up that which we love the most and we always say yes. We might nod in the affirmative as we hear the Word preached, but it is only because we know how the story ends…Abraham didn’t end up having to do it. There was a ram in the bushes.

Some of you need to go hiking with me. Pray about it. You might not find a ram.

 

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Baby Steps?

My youngest has been singing ever since gathered worship this morning. Power, power, wonder working power; of course it’s the Sean Dutton version not your typical piano/organ combo. It makes me happy to know that she is paying attention but it also is quite scary. You see, I am pretty sure that it the first time we have sung that song since she has been staying out with us before Sunday school. This means that she learned something after one hearing.

What does this mean for me? How many times has she heard me apologize to her after acting selfishly toward her? How many times has she heard me pray for our family? How many times has she heard me tell L that I love her? How many time has she heard so many of the things that will teach her more about the Gospel than any of the different versions of Daniel and the lions den. What she hears from my mouth regarding God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Gospel…all these things matter much more than buying her the newest kids Bible, or sending her off to Bible class, or even when she gets older – shipping her off to Youth Group. We sometimes think in terms that would label this as baby steps but in actuality they are the very steps that will be with you for your entire life. If you ever get to a point that you do not need to do this, you have actually retarded your understanding as opposed to strengthened your understanding. Live the Gospel in front of your children.

Why does she need to hear this from me? I am her father. This comes with great responsibility as well as the opportunity for great blessing. If you can’t remember the last time you apologized either IN FRONT of your child or TO your child; consider that a reason to go do it right now.

Being a parent is not able being perfect, it’s about sharing God’s grace in your life with your children.

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