Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Okay, I'm Officially Creeped Out Now



This is so far over the top I can't begin to comment.

Yes, a rare moment in time.

Friday, September 26, 2008

And the Cure For Apathy

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We Have Met the Enemy, And He Is Us



When I was entering into this calling as a pastor, one of my pastors told me that one of the main maxims he had always heard about that role was this:

"A Pastor's job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Opportunities to comfort seem to abound. People in the hospital, teens going through something, people who just need to talk to someone always seem to be coming along one behind the other. In those times the pastor can not only exercise the ministry of presence - just being there, but we get the opportunity to encourage people with the Word and with prayer. In today's world, we get even more opportunities to do that through technology. I'll send out requests for prayer almost every day, and receive a couple a week from someone he just dashes off a note that says "please pray for me or for us."

The chances to "afflict the comfortable" are fewer and farther between.

And yet, pastor/preachers probably get more of those than most other professions do. The person sitting out in front of us on Sunday has made a choice to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit and under the ministry of the Word of God. So they really shouldn't be surprised when God uses that Word to bring the light of conviction on them.

I've lost track of how many times someone told me after a sermon "I felt like you were preaching just for me." Every preacher hears that. People wonder if we've listened at their window, or been a fly on the wall in their home. No, we've prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to use our pitiful words for His glory. People's lives can be changed in an instant and stay changed forever as the Lord moves into their heart and makes them a new creation.

But apathy... sigh


It is like nailing jello to the wall.

Personally, I'd much rather deal with someone who denies God, who lives as if there is no God than face off against an apathetic Christian. A functional atheist, the apathetic Christian carries their "faith" like a woman might wear a charm bracelet. It's an ornament to be "worn" at certain times and at certain places. This type of Christianity is cultural at best. And the epicenter of it seems to be in the South.

I remember years ago talking to a man on a search team from California. He had called out of the blue and wanted to talk to me about becoming their pastor. In his explanation about the church, he told me about their prison ministry, about their community ministry, and then said "You know pastor, we're all first generation Christians. Every single one of us needed saving bad."

If we're not careful, we can allow the churches we love to become centers of apathy. It's easy. In those cases, it is definitely the pastor's role to upset the status quo and break the church out of its rut. Maybe that means beginning the worship gathering with the sermon instead of with music, or being more interactive in the way you preach. Maybe it is working through a series directly tied to areas in people's lives that they struggle with. Maybe if you are a topical preacher, it might mean preaching expository sermons through a book.

DO WHATEVER IT TAKES

The first sign of leprosy is the absence of pain.

The first sign a dying church presents is apathy.

Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray for the FIRE to be a part of regeneration.

And don't let them...

change you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yeah, I Have Flying Monkey Phobia



But Kristen Morton gave me a McDonald's Happy Meal toy version tonight for my birthday, and I barely shivered. So I'm making progress. :)

Seriously though - how many hours of therapy must have been generated over the years from those airborne simians?

Hard Pressed


7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
2 Cor 4:7-10 (NLT)

There's a tendency in many of us to maintain the idea that we can handle life on our own. For some, it comes out of a prideful spirit that doesn't let anyone else within the small circle of people we trust. For others, it might be a sense of responsibility - that this is my role, my job, my place to handle this, and I don't need to burden others with it.

Neither has any place within the life of a Christian. For we are never alone and our lives are connected with God's purposes through the Holy Spirit Who dwells within. That same Spirit leads us into community with other "called out" ones and into a group called the church.

Paul makes it clear in the passage of Scripture where his power comes from. He does not minimize his frailty as so many of us do when hard pressed "I can handle it. I don't need anyone's help."

Instead, he admitted he was in trouble and that he didn't understand fully the reasons for that trouble.

And he counted on God. God's presence. God's power. God's purpose and plan.

That's where we need to be found.

Hard pressed? Sure.

But dearly loved.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's Really Important To Remember Your Part



From Steve Brown's blog today:

I have a friend (you would know his name…he's a famous Bible teacher) who was introduced at a Bible convention this way:

You're very fortunate to be here. I've been asked to give an introduction and the man I'm introducing to you has spoken to audiences the world over. His message has changed millions of lives and his presence has brought peace, repentance and love to very difficult situations throughout the church. He is profound, wise and compassionate, touching people everywhere with his message.

His name is Jesus.

And here is _______________ to tell you about him.


That's my job.

That's your job if you are a follower of Jesus.

We do our part by living the love of Jesus out loud through our lives - our words, our actions, and what we value.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Best Malted Milk Balls On Earth


Fresh Market has the best malted milk balls. Sean went out and picked up a pound of them for my birthday present. I think we shall have to make this a family tradition. Anytime anyone has a birthday, they should bring me a pound of malted milk balls. :)

Ya Think?














We've had some intense weeks lately around here.




They are normally pretty full anyway, with a pastor's job being "on call" 24/7 and Bunny's piano teaching keeping her hopping.

But throw in her mother's illness and it really ratcheted up the pressure.

Bunny's been up to Macon twice in the last month, camping out in the hospital and doing whatever it took to get her mother well. Her Mom was able to leave the hospital at the end of last week and was placed in a nursing home for a rehab stay. Then Saturday morning, when Bunny went to surprise her with a visit - the surprise was that Dot was very ill and had to be sent to the ER, into ICU, and back into the hospital again.

Just this morning, news from Macon had Bunny in tears at 8:30 AM and thanking God after talking to her Mom on the phone at 11 AM.

Pressure? Yeah, you could say that. And yet, as I tried to take today as the gift that it is from God, I read this.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4 So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
5 If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. 6 Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
James 1:2-6 (MSG)


What I want "out in the open" is that I rely on God. Yes, I have some experience as a disciples after 35 years of following Jesus. And it is true that I have gained some insight as a pastor in helping others through their trials.

But I'm a human being. There are times when I want life to be easy. My preference would be for everyone to be healthy, money to never be an issue, and everything in every area of my life to be incredibly blessed.

So the idea of not trying to get out of anything prematurely is not natural. It's like running into the wind, or swimming against the current. And yet that "resistance training" is exactly what develops a faith that will last.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Look what I found :)


Bunny asked me to scan a picture while we were up here of her Mom. Well look what else I found. Now that's a girl you can just look at and know she's only going to get more beautiful. And she did. :)

You Know I Had To Post This - Go Tech!



It's about time GT fans had something to get excited about. Yeah, the guys doing it aren't exactly rapper material, but new coach Paul Johnson has brought hope back to Grant Field.

Go Tech - Beat UGA!

In Macon GA

Well, we arrived in Macon in the wee hours of the morning and crashed at Bunny's parent's house. Nothing like an iron double bed frame designed for people 100 years ago to provide a satisfying rest for two people accustomed to a California King sized bed.

Henley was great on the trip up, which was mostly uneventful except for observing a fight that broke out at a gas station we had stopped at in Albany, which turned out not to have any regular gasoline anyway. The stretch of roads between Valparaiso and here travels through a very rural area for the most part. It was Friday evening, and there was very little activity at all, even in the little towns we pass through.

Bunny and Sean are headed over this morning to visit Bunny's mom (Dot), and I am in high hopes I will have Nu-Way's for lunch. The picture is of the window of the Mecca for Nu-Way's on Cotton Avenue. I'll probably get some from the Zebulon Road location, but's that's okay too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Waiting on the world to change



It's not the book of "let's pray about it."

It's the book of ACTS.

War Is Where You Find It

So we're at Target today and I wandered back to the electronics section like a moth wanders to a flame. Perched on an end cap there was a device I had heard of but never seen before - the Sony Digital Book Reader.

Like the Amazon Kindle, the Sony unit is designed to replace the printed book. There are a lot of things that I like about that idea, particularly when you combine it with the ability to keep texts like translations up to date. For example the New Living Translation, which is my favorite, is on its fourth round of changes. Yes there have only been two editions, but during the interim period, changes have been made. All those changes presumably make it better, but the "real book" buyer will not see them unless he purchases a later printing. Apparently this happens all the time, but publishers don't let anyone know.

If you're digital, you can just synch the book with the newer version and you're up to date. So it interests me, this new device, because I can see the uses in ministry. But there are other uses too. In fact the book the display device was showing when I walked up was "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. That author along with other militant atheists like Sam Harris, are attacking Christianity and ridiculing Christians and their beliefs.So I changed the book it was displaying to another work of fiction. :)

If you are interested in reading a great exegesis and apologetic response to Dawkins and particularly Harris, then pick up this book from Ravi Zacharias. It is an excellent help in answering the attacks, as Zacharias leads his readers through the arguments , and then with the help of Dallas Willard, makes a case for God.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Warning: A Waste of Time

I could survive for 1 minute, 22 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk Beds Pedia



And this is what the Internet can do to you boys and girls. Fortunately, I had finished my work when this crossed my desktop

I did not mention that I killed the lizard but bled out from my injuries. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Long Obedience In Mostly the Same Direction


This Sunday was special at New Hope. We saw a glimpse of what God is doing through us as we baptized five new believers into the fellowship. Some we've known for a long time, and some for less, but they all are beginners on the long journey of following Jesus.

On the same Sunday 35 years ago, I made a profession of faith in Jesus when the invitation was given at the close of the Sunday night worship service at Bethesda Baptist Church. So as I looked into the eyes of those I baptized "in obedience to His command", I heard echoes of Brother James Herndon doing the same for me.

I don't think anyone who has seriously tried to follow Jesus' call to "come, follow Me" would fail to identify with me when I confess that my fidelity to His commands has been filled with ups and downs. Especially in the earlier years, I operated mostly out of a cultural relationship with Jesus - I went to church and hung around with people who went to church. Life was pretty darn good - even easy most of the time, and so there were very few instances where I realized the import of my decision to become a follower of Jesus. Since I was a pretty moral person, living with other moral people, it was no big deal to stay the course.

Then years later, at the height of what success I had in the corporate world, after getting the boys into good schools, the family into a good house, and seeing only an upside to life, two things happened in succession. The first was that through no fault of my own, (or significant gifts) I was singled out by God for special service as a pastor. I can confidently tell you with no worries of being contradicted that I had never considered that career field once in my entire life. But there I was, and there He was. How would that work? Hadn't the foggiest notion.

Six months later the plan unfolded. The company I worked for was shrinking itself and I was low man on the totem pole. If I didn't take the buy-out, I would be transferred far away. So I made plans. Then God unveiled part two. My Mother was stricken with terminal cancer. My plans got ditched. When the dust settled, we had laid her to rest, and I was back into the workforce. It left me grieving and relying more on God than I ever had before.

This time I wasn't around moral people. On one job, the first day of training ended with my boss showing me how to cheat on expense reports. On another, I was shown how to make numbers that meant one thing seem to mean another. Through that experience, I understood what lots of other people had faced outside the Christian bubble. I finally found a job in sales where I could live out my faith again alongside other believers.

I was first called as a youth pastor in a semi-dysfunctional church, then as a pastor in what I thought was a great place to live out my calling and help people come to know Jesus and grow in their faith. The baptistery was used to store Christmas decorations and the pipes that filled it required a blowtorch to unseize, but at the beginning God was alive there and we grew. Chick Swindoll nailed it when he said that small rural churches were possibly the most difficult and had ended many a pastor's ministry prematurely. I was nearly such a victim. There is no doubt that a portion of the blame has to fall on my inexperienced shoulders. But as I later found out, the church ate preachers for breakfast and lunch.

Lurching from there into a church splant, I delayed the agony of leaving behind the people who had given the church life. But our attempts to plant a church in that area suffered from a lack of a place to meet and a total "shunning" by the power brokers in the old church. So it eventually ended, leaving me in sales management but not much closer to service in God's church.

Then a little church, reeling from pastoral failure, spotted a resume I had posted a year before, and called. New Hope Baptist in some unknown town called Valparaiso Florida was trying to hold on and reach the future God had promised.

I've been here nine years now. We've seen God work miracles, and we've been hard pressed at times. There's no doubt that some of the bruises were self-inflicted. My friend Arnold and I were comparing notes a few weeks back about what has happened over the last few years. He even remembered things that I had mercifully forgotten. I really can laugh at some of them. However, at the time they really hurt.

But there's never been a doubt that God sent us here.

When God Asks the Questions


God asked Jonah two questions in the fourth chapter.

“Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
Jonah 4:4 (NLT)

and then after a plant God provided to shade Jonah was then killed by a worm God appointed to that task, God asked Jonah...

“Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
Jonah 4:9 (NLT)

God uses questions all throughout the Scriptures to try and make us stop and think. Here's a list I found of just a few.

·Where are you? Who told you that you were naked? What is this you have done? (Genesis 3)
·Where is your brother Abel? What have you done? (Genesis 4)
·What have you done? (1 Samuel 13:11)
·Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? (2 Samuel 12)
·Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? (Isaiah 6)
·Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16)
·What do you want Me to do for you? (Matthew 20)
·Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? (Luke 22)
·Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9)

We're so prone to ask God questions, but how uncomfortable they seem when He is the One asking.

The one question written in the Scriptures that sticks in my head?

It's at the close of the book of John. Peter has been restored by the grace of Jesus into fellowship and ministry. It would seem that Peter would be only focused on following the One who has just shown him the most incredible mercy and grace - right?

Nope.

Peter asks Jesus about His plans for the apostle John. Jesus replies, "What is that to you? You follow me."

It's so easy to start looking at what other people are doing. So tempting to worry about how a decision you might have to make would affect the lives of others. But Christ calls us forward - with Him.

When God asks, answer in obedience, not just words.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Hope @ Worship 14 Sept 2008

It was the last week of the series covering the Book of Jonah. The idea was to explore Jonah's attitude and open that to our attitudes and notions about God. Then to look at how to handle our anger with God - what to do and what not to do. There were some reasons that this was a timely message for some in the congregation, so it was God's providence that delivered it on time for them.

To reinforce the positive about God's love for us, we crafted the music accordingly.

Arise
Your Grace Is Enough
Blessed Be Your Name
Forever
Grace Flows Down

It didn't fit anywhere, but we also had "I Love To Tell the Story" done as a duet by Craig Bryan and Brittany Edwards. They did a great job on a song that probably means a great deal to many in the congregation. I know it does to me.

So here's the ppt for the message. You might note that the Scripture is on there. I'm always torn on that, because as a teacher, I want the students to use their own Bibles and follow along. This week I put them on there, next week probably not. My goal is to use a few memorable images as opposed to a lecture/presentation. This week was mostly text, though. Hmmm...

Craig Groeshel - On "It"

The leader must care more about what God thinks than what people think.(emphasis mine) That sounds basic—and it is, but it is not always easy to do. For me, I have to be obedient to all that I feel God is showing me—even in the very small things. When my other people’s opinions become too important to me, I find myself delaying obedience to God or even disobeying. - Craig Groeshel in an interview about his new book "It"


Sounds like a good and needed book for pastors to read and think through. It is so easy to go with the flow - so easy to do something that you know a certain person or persons will like.

"Going along to get along" never grew people or through them a church.

Think back. How hard was it for Elijah to stand in front of Ahab and tell him the heavens were going to slam shut - there'd be no rain or even dew until Israel repented.

What about Stephen, or Peter calling out the people for their sins.

God's man is only a man. But he has to find the strength in his relationship to God to resist the siren's call to acquiesce to less than God's best.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

For my friend Joe Gnatek and Riverstone Church

My friend Joe Gnatek, an AG pastor, has been working all year to plant a church in his home town of Claremont, NH. Today is their first service in the theater they'll call home. Riverstone Church may be few at this moment, but I'm praying that God sends hundreds their way this morning and in the weeks, months, and years to come. At least until we can get a good SBC church up there. JK... sort of :)

Friend, you will remember this day. So this one's for you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Anyone have a spare lab coat?


It had been three years since I had gone to the eye doctor, so I finally was encouraged to make that trip happen. Once the exam was complete, the doc told me that my eyes have gotten better, and my prescription is now too strong. She said that nearsightedness fades as you age. Cruel trick, that. :)

So I'm looking for new glasses with the aid of my fashion consultant. But here's the deal. Every one of them looks like you should be wearing a white lab coat.



I know that wearing glasses can be cool, I mean look at Bono,























or even Buddy Holly.
It just seems that they all make me look like the old Muppet character "Beaker", who didn't wear glasses at all.

Sigh...

I'll get some glasses. But I'm not expecting anything more than being able to see better out of them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Doesn't Work



The admittedly satirical and mocking photoshop above reminded me of a rant I've been saving up. I know people sometimes don't really apply themselves to their relationship with God. Then they comment as they walk away "This doesn't work."

It's like we see sometimes when people come to the ocean.

They stand on the beach and complain about the sea creatures, whine about the sand being hot to their feet, or wonder what idiot came up with the warning flag colors. In short, they do everything except dive in themselves.

But the expectation in the church seems to be -

No worries, because to the rescue comes "SUPER PASTOR".

Well on behalf of pastors everywhere, but speaking personally for me alone.

Not

I don't have enough...

- Love to supply what you lack. If you are going to be in a relationship with Jesus, you can't rent someone else to love Him for you. I'll love you, try to help you get into a position where you can experience His love, but it's in giving of yourself to Him and for Him with your neighbors that you'll see the most growth in your love for Him. No one can do that for you.

- Answers to fill in all your gaps. There's something I read once about working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. It's not always celebration - this Way with Jesus. Sometimes you are scared out of your skin, or wondering if He's really there. And in those times, when you force yourself deeper into Him even though all your feelings are telling you RUN!, your faith begins to take root, grow deep, mature. Can I point you to Scriptures, offer books, give you the benefit of my experience with God? Sure. But I can't do your hard work of trusting God when it doesn't make sense. I can't wait on God for you.

- Time to read what you should be reading for yourself. If you are depending on your pastor to take your place in Bible study, it's a little like pretending watching football is getting you in shape. Ain't gonna happen.

We return you now to your regularly scheduled "Joel Osteen Hour of Personal Power"

It's Actually Going To Happen Today


Yes, after weeks of intense research and negotiations with several dealers both new and used over three states, resulting in a massive waste of productivity...

at 5PM today we will take delivery of a 2006 Honda Element EX P AWD

...I hope :)

Henley is so excited. Of course he doesn't have to make the payments. ;)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

When All Seems Wrong

Many years ago, G.K. Chesterson was asked to write an essay on what was wrong with the world. Here is his succinct but deadly accurate reply.

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

The picture above illustrates all of what is right with the world. Over 2000 years have passed since Jesus' ministry on this earth ended in what almost everyone who witnessed its end saw as a brutal, awful bloody failure.

And yet, through what man intended for evil, God brought not just a temporary or band-aid fix. No, God brought forth reconciliation between a race stained forever with sin and His holy and righteous nature.

Isn't the cross beautiful?

Lest We Forget

The depravity of man is at once the most unpopular of the Christian doctrines and yet the most empirically verifiable. - Malcolm Muggeridge

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

Devastating :)


Actual conversation just now in the Wilson home.

David: (Looking at stats on the website) "Someone's downloading my sermons."

Bunny: "Well it's not me."

insert sound effect of wounded male ego here. :)

Great, great article from Ed Stetzer

If we are to witness a genuine move of the Spirit, we cannot spend our time pining for the past and for methods that no longer work. Neither should we spend our time frantically looking for ways to innovate and keep up with the times. Some evangelical leaders are in panic mode as they search for new methods to fix the problem. Solutions abound -- whether it is the emerging church; the missional-incarnational movement; a renewal of polity or biblical preaching; or groups that reemphasize certain gifts, actions, or ministries. Everyone seems to have an answer.

Many of their concerns are legitimate, and worthy of consideration. But the Spirit can only begin working in our churches when we repent of the unbelieving attitudes that have repelled the lost. At times our hearts are hard, fallow ground that will not allow a Kingdom harvest to germinate.

Nevertheless, pastors and leaders must find comfort in the fact -- despite the church's decline -- the gospel is still faithful and true. To reach the lost, they must hold more firmly than ever to the gospel, find stability on its rock-solid ground, and move forward, engaging the culture.

Remember, Jesus said He would build His church. This promise should calm our fears and allow us to rest in God's mighty power to work out His purposes.

Unfortunately, many evangelicals have lost confidence in the gospel. Since society has marginalized the church, it seems people are saying: "Maybe this gospel is not all we thought it would be." Since the church cannot be trusted, they think, maybe the gospel cannot be trusted either.

Our loss of confidence in the gospel is evidenced by the fact believers are sharing their faith less and less. The seeker movement has unintentionally disempowered evangelism by training people to bring their friends to church services so professionals can take over and seal the deal.

In addition, churches have become dispensers of practical advice. During the 1980s and '90s, pastors told church members to bring their non-Christian friends to hear insight on everything from how to have a better life to how to overcome stress.

Leaders spent 20 to 30 years reshaping their churches around this new vision. Churches focused on practical advice -- moral, biblically based, practical advice -- and made inviting friends to hear such advice the church's evangelism strategy. In the process, the church unintentionally de-emphasized teaching people to share their faith. As a result, laypeople lost confidence in the power of their faith. Now, like a bear fed by the tourists, the church is unable to fend for herself. She has lost her natural ability to evangelize.

One cannot read Scripture and miss the fact it focuses on a bloody cross and an empty tomb. The gospel is about a Savior who died on a cross in our place. These are facts -- not just interesting things to think or talk about -- and they are usually unpalatable to our neighbors. If we do not have confidence in them, then we do not have true faith, and we reduce the gospel to a 12-step program for inner peace.

Luke 24:47 says, "Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations." When believers lose confidence in the gospel, Christ's evangelistic mandate withers away. But those who are confident in the gospel become living epistles, God's love letters to individuals and communities, and messages that carry the gospel's prophetic edge.

If we fail to regain confidence in the gospel, subsequent generations will continue to walk away from it. Staying culturally relevant is important, and it is beneficial to minister in fresh, new ways. After all, we must remove any roadblocks that keep people from getting to Jesus. But, in the end, if strategies and systems replace the core of the gospel, its meaning and power will be lost.


Go read it all

Friends, it's about Jesus and the good news He brought through His birth, life, death, and resurrection. Tell the story of what He's done for you.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I'm Wondering If Wayne Grudem Is A Dog Lover





Books, books, books. Okay, I love books, and my friends at Amazon know that. They also know by the type of books I buy, that I love God. And maybe they've gone on my blog and have seen the pictures of Henley. But I'm wondering about their suggestion.




Amazon.com Customer,
We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem or other books in the Theology > Systematic category have also purchased Dogspell: The Gospel According to Dog by Mary Ellen Ashcroft. For this reason, you might like to know that Dogspell: The Gospel According to Dog is now available. You can order yours for just $13.50 ($4.50 off the list price) by following the link below.


I do know that I have learned a lot about devotion from dogs. Sean told us today that Henley didn't eat for a full day after we left last week.
And I have experienced unconditional love more often from dogs than I have from people.

But I'll have to give this book purchase some thought. :)

New Hope @ Worship 09/07/2008

Second in the Jonah series and an attempt to stress the GOODNESS of God and His desire to reach out to the unlovely through the unlikely.

Music Set

O Worship the King
Indescribable
How Can I Keep From Singing
Grace Flows Down



I think I could go back to the same text again tonight and approach it from another angle. Then pick it up again next Sunday and do the same. There is so much here in Jonah 3. My prayer as we finished was that God would continue the conversation through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Audio Is Here

Saturday, September 06, 2008

She's All That


“Honor your father and mother.
Ex 20:12 (NLT)







We got back from Macon this afternoon. Bunny tried to sleep in the back of the Kia the first couple of hours, and right now as I type this, she's been in bed an hour. She's worn out. From the moment we arrived at the hospital Thursday, to the moment when she hit the wall this morning after two days without rest and very little to eat - she gave everything she had to her mother's care. She was "broken and poured out" for her mother.

You'd have to be there to see it. And her mother is very aware IMO of just how much her daughter loves her. The change in her attitude during the course of the first 24 hours we were there was remarkable.

I'm so proud of Bunny and so grateful that God put her in my life. The last two days have been the best illustration of servanthood I have ever seen.

And I love her so.

Friday, September 05, 2008

In MCN GA

I'm sitting in the Kia at the intersection of College and Hardeman, using the City of Macon's free WLAN network. Weird. Macon isn't exactly the tech corner of GA.

My mother in law seems to be doing better, so one more night up here and then back to FL.

Keep Dot, Bunny and the rest of the family in your prayers.

Now it's off to Cotton Ave for a REAL Nu-Way weiner. :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

We Can Do Better

“Christianity is now almost impossible to explain, not because the concepts aren’t intelligible, but because the living, moving, speaking examples of our faith don’t line up with the message. Our poor posture overshadows the most beautiful story and reality the world has ever known.”

Hugh Halter & Matt Smay in The Tangible Kingdom p.41

How Much Does Culture Influence You?

video
Bunny pointed me to this video a couple of weeks ago. It frankly stunned me to see how easily the lone person in the clip was influenced by the mob. After years of watching culture both outside the church and inside, I'm convinced we follow the crowd more often than not. Pastors go to a conference and come back with demographic envy and a determination to do what Rick Warren, Bill Hybles, Perry Noble, or whoever did in their context. People look at what their friends own, or hear what they listen to, or check out their schedule and decide to be like them.

Friends, the reason the early church exploded in growth is because the message of Jesus was counter-cultural. Our values were not set by a look around to see what everyone else was doing. They were fixed by the Holy Spirit.

What about you? Is your church trying to become Saddleback, or Willow Creek, or Fellowship? Get over it. Can you learn from them? Absolutely. But imitation is death to what the Spirit of God wants to do through you right where you are.

And you, follower of Jesus - are you caught in the trap of trying to be like someone else - trying to fit in to the point you are running yourself ragged? What is that to you? You follow Jesus.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Living On Mission


A quote from Ed Stezer about the barriers we face in energizing the next great generation.




The unique barriers for twenty- and thirtysomethings are also twofold. First, many are trying to await the renewal of the Church. Their hope is to show up one Sunday and it will suddenly be different—more missional, more externally focused, more compassionate. The problem: It won’t, unless they are willing to lead the way by serving in the church to which they are committed.

The second barrier is that the culture they face is farther from the Gospel than any other in American history. The young adults and families today have grown up without a mooring to biblical truth, and young Christians now have to begin at the beginning. They were raised to present five-point Gospel outlines, and it is not working very often. Instead, they must describe God in Genesis 1 and then Colossians 1. They will need to share about the freedom God offers first from Ecclesiastes and then Galatians. What I am trying to say is that twenty- and thirtysomethings must recognize the distance their culture is away from the cross and be prepared to work in soil that is dry and parched.


Ed in my opinion is the finest missional thinker the SBC has produced. He's right on target here. Those of us who are boomers have to consciously be working every day not just to help the church grow into her clothes (see Col 3:12), but invest in the lives of our fellow disciples who are in their 20s and 30s. That investment means not just helping them see what we see, but working diligently to learn from them too.

Maybe if Ed and others keep writing and speaking, our churches and their leadership will wake up and realize the truth of his words. Here's the thing - we have the best story to tell ever. The narrative of God's Big Story is compelling in itself. We can tell our stories of what He has done for us personally, without having to remember whether we were on point one or four. We can share out of the cohesiveness of His Word just how wide and how deep His love truly is. We can show up and project God's compassion into the lives of the people we live around and with. We can live in Spirit and in Truth. And we can make an eternal difference!

I get excited just thinking about all the tools we possess today to connect with people. I visited a teenager in the ER yesterday. We were talking and then I noticed that they now have TV's in the ER. A commercial for "Rock band" came on, and he asked me when our church's next game night was. "We ought to have it twice a month!"

How did game night get started? Some of our leadership decided that we needed more face time with our youth and college aged members and their friends. So we looked for a way to do that and came up with game night. It began with board games and then grew to include a full LAN network real-time strategy ring as well. Then last month we rolled in the Wii and the Rock Band setup. We had kids galore. They had a great time, and so did the adults. Another point of entry. Another front porch experience. We're earning trust and hopefully opening the door for more later.

Come on friends, look for ways to use what you already have in ways you never have. If there are few opportunities for recreation where you are, then create some. We have to start building the bridge from our end and we have to do it with younger followers of Jesus alongside us.

New Hope @ Worship 08/31/08

I'm sorry I'm late with this, but life happens.

Here I Am to Worship
Holy Is the Lord
Amazed
He Has Made Me Glad

I Surrender All

The day before, my next door neighbor's son died after a collision during a football game. This is a small town. Everyone knows everyone. So there was a heaviness in our hearts today as we came to worship the Living God. One of those days where you put yourself into worship because you know that not being there won't make it better, but being there will. So we had a good turnout and some visitors.

I love loldogs

I get a lot of emails, and skim through a lot of RSS feeds each day. One that usually winds up brightening my day is the "icanhashotdogs" feed. The people behind it take pictures of dogs and add captions in the classic "lolcats" sytle.

Sometimes you just need a break.

That's why I choose loldogs. :)