July 28, 2014

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“Green patches or Greener Pastures” (the Lord is my Shepherd)

Thought #199 – Bible verse Green Pastures and the Lord is my Shepherd:

Psalms 23:1-2 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”

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Green Pastures (Severn river in England)
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They say, “The Grass is always greener on the other side”, and sometimes, when you get there, it actually is.

Greener pastures!

Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd
But, it depends which fence you jump over.
Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd

You see, most people spend most of their life confusing green patches with greener pastures.

Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd
And so, they spend most of their life thinking that green patches are as good as it gets.  And so, they spend most of their life looking for the next green patch.  And so, they spend most of their life lost, LIKE A LOST SHEEP, always looking for the next, better-looking, more convenient green patch.

So busy are these sheep (people), that they never look up to consider that there are GREENER PASTURES that THE GREAT GOOD SHEPHERD is trying to lead them to.

Reality is, whether we realize it or not, we’ve all been lost sheep, and you may be a lost sheep right now.  Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his or her own way.”  All throughout the Bible, both the Old Testament and New Testament, it’s full of analogies about us being sheep and the Lord being our Shepherd.  You are probably already familiar with the most popular of these Shepherd and sheep scripture passages – the 23rd Psalm.
Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd

Psalms 23:1-6

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in GREEN PASTURES;  He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

As sheep, you and I get to choose whether to follow the Shepherd or go our own way.  As sheep, you and I get to choose whether to chase after green patches (and in the long run get lost) or let the Shepherd lead us to greener pastures.  As sheep, you and I get to choose whether to hear the Shepherd’s voice or listen to our own sheepish inner voice.  As sheep, you and I get to choose whether to find comfort in the Shepherd’s presence or pursue our own pleasure in ‘wide open spaces’.

Alas, “all we like sheep have gone astray!”  But, we don’t have to stay that way.
Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd

John 10:10b-11,14-18,27-30

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD.  The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.  Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.  MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.”
Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd

Green patches or greener pastures?

Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd
The good news is that there is a path to greener pastures.  The even gooder news is that there is a Good Shepherd who wishes to lead us to those greener pastures for His name sake.  You and I don’t have to spend our life meandering, looking for the next green patch, lost in the ‘wide open spaces’, trying to survive on our own, ever-looking for briefly-satisfying green patches.

Hear me, one sheep to another, “IT’S NOT WORTH IT!”  Better yet, “HEAR HIM!”

Hear His voice.  Begin to listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd.  Stop living for a green patch here, and a green patch there, here a patch, there a patch, everywhere a patch, patch … it’s all an empty promise.  Start living for the GREEN, GREEN PASTURES that the Good Shepherd wants to lead you in.

Now couldn’t be a better time to jump the fence.
Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd

The grass is truly greener on the other side …

Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd
Greener pastures with the Great Good Shepherd!

Bible verse green pastures and the Lord is my shepherd

“Brand Name Church”

Thought #198 – Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand Identity

Revelation 3:1 “I know your works, that you have a NAME that you are alive, but you are dead.”

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Brand Name Logos
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Just like companies, Branding is a big deal in churches these days!  Things like church brand strategy, church brand name, brand logo, brand tagline, brand reputation, brand identity, brand performance, etc, yet …

Churches everywhere are experiencing a brand crisis!

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity
How ’bout your church?

What’s your brand?

What’s your strategy to get your name out?

What’s your plan?

What actions are you taking?

What reputation do you have in your community?

What’s your church’s identity?
Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity

Brand. Brand. Brand.

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity
Your church and your church brand and brand identity is functioning exactly as it is designed to function.

Again, right now, your church and your church’s brand (name, location, recognition) and your church’s behavior (brand identity, reputation, and impact) is functioning exactly as it is designed to function.  Good or bad.  Internally (congregation) or externally (community) or upwardly (Christ).  It is behaving exactly the way you have designed it to behave.  It’s performing exactly the way you have designed it to perform.

Your church’s ‘BRAND’ is simply this …your name, logo, tagline, maybe even your weekly attendance; also, your community’s recognition and awareness of your name, location, existence, and involvement.  Your church’s ‘BRAND IDENTITY’ is not so simple, it is this …your reputation, behavior, and eternal impact; it’s that which is connoted in the hearts and minds of your congregation, community, and even more importantly, the heart and mind of God, when He and they think about you.
Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity

Your church’s brand name is important, but,
Your church’s brand identity is infinitely and eternally more important.

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity
Let me explain.  Much of the New Testament from Acts to Revelation talks about church brand and church brand identity.  Good and bad.  God gives us lots of insight on what the strategy, plan, and activities of church branding should be.  For today, I’d like us to focus on one section of Scripture where God addressed the branding (both the brand name and brand identity) of 7 actual churches that existed two thousand years ago in the world’s largest hub of humanity, second only to metropolitan Rome.  Revelation chapters 2 and 3.  In fact, we’re only going to look at a particular passage.  Of all people, it’s actually Jesus speaking.
Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity

Revelation 3:1-2

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I KNOW YOUR WORKS, THAT YOU HAVE A NAME THAT YOU ARE ALIVE, BUT YOU ARE DEAD.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”

Uh oh!  Jesus, the brand guru and brand owner of the church of Sardis, had rather strong critique of the church’s brand performance in terms of its BRAND IDENTITY.  Yikes!  Jesus the marketer and owner of the seven Spirits of God and keeper of the seven stars said to the church of Sardis …
Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity

You’ve got a BRAND NAME that’s ALIVE and well-known, but,
Your BRAND IDENTITY in your congregation, community, and to Me … is DEAD!

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity
Seems like a harsh performance rating, doesn’t it?  Jesus said to the church of Sardis,  “Your brand identity is dead.”  “Your church behavior is dead.”  “Your brand impact is dead.”
Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity

Dead. Dead. Dead.

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity
Brand consultant Jesus, said [paraphrased], “All the work you’ve put into your brand name and brand awareness and brand recognition is dead.”  “Right now, immediately, rethink your brand.”  “Get your brand strategy and brand identity and brand energy focused back on Me, ’cause your current brand performance is far from perfect.”

Surprisingly, Jesus had strong unfavorable critique of 6 out of 7 of the churches mentioned in Revelation chapter 2 and 3.  If you are a church pastor, that ought to be startling.  That ought to be very thought-provoking and heart-searching.  It’s ought to ’cause you to do some serious re-assessment of your church brand vs. your church brand identity.
Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity

6 out of 7 churches under-performing in the area of BRAND IDENTITY.

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity
Uh oh!  I’m not sure those statistics have changed much these two thousand years later.  I dare say, Churches everywhere are experiencing a branding crisis!

Pastor, may I kindly encourage you to consider the words of Jesus.  May I exhort you to look again at Acts thru Revelation and look again at your church brand and branding strategy and brand identity.  God has not called you to brand your church around yourself or your building or your community recognition and awareness rating, or your church attendance or amount of giving.  None of that.
Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity

God has ONLY CALLED YOU to brand your (His) church around Himself, and His glory, and His ageless, timeless principles and behaviors of truth.

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity
Nothing else.  Nothing less.

Your church’s brand identity should be nothing other than the reputation and impact of God’s personal presence, glory, and truth in your congregation, community, and relationship with Christ.

How ’bout your church? What’s your brand?

What’s your strategy to get His name out?

What’s your plan?

What actions are you taking?

What real kingdom impact are you having in your community?

What’s your church’s brand identity?

1 Timothy 3:15 “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Pastor, in the words of Jesus, “Go strengthen the things that remain (the things that really last) in your church’s identity before your brand goes dead!”

Bible verses about Church Branding and Brand identity