Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whatever you can do - do it

Back from a couple days in Macon helping Bunny care for her Mom. She's so intense at doing that when we are up there that even though I want to do everything I can do, many times I am one step too late. She's already at it when I'm just getting up.

It would be a great joy to report that Dot is much better, but I cannot. We keep hoping that she will begin eating enough to help her body heal. I watched Bunny and her dad do everything they could think of to get her to eat even a little. I did contribute a Wendy's frosty that Dot ate a little of. Maybe next time up I'll get her a NuWay.

Dot recognized Bunny and me immediately. She watched TV, read magazines, laughed with Bunny at you tube clips, and as long as she could hear you was engaged in the conversation. Dot's still Dot. Frail, yes, but she's such a treasure.

I hope everyone that enters her bedroom tries to get her to eat something.

I'm very tired when I write this, but I want to put this out there for anyone who might read this blog (I know there must be someone :) ).

If you still have your parents - honor them with your prayers, with your presence, and with preeminence of priority when you are with them.

In other words - it ain't about you.

It's about them.

So come visit to listen. Talk with them about things they want to talk about. Listen to them even if they tell you a story you have heard before. Bring in life and encouragement - sow hope! Give them every moment's attention you can for as long as you are there. Be available to do whatever they want you to do. They've given you more time than you'll ever realize. Time to pay it back.

For you will not always have that chance.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Where In the World Are David and Bunny

We're here in Lizella Georgia for a couple of days to visit with Curtis and help care for Bunny's Mom.

So talk among yourselves, as I'll be pretty busy.

I am really looking forward to Sunday at New Hope.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pardon Me - I Have To Turn Over Some Tables

I'm adding a new recurring feature to Herding Cats (unless I decide it shouldn't occur again). The "Fleece the Sheep Award." Inspired by... well, you know.

Today's "Fleece" goes to the makers of the ESV Bible.

Now while I am not a fan of the ESV, that's not the issue. Saw that Crossway is giving one away.

Win this beautiful premium calfskin leather version of the new ESV Study Bible!

This Bible retails for $239.99

$239.99 for a Bible in a world where that would feed literally hundreds of orphans?
$239.99 for a Bible in a world where that would buy dozens of mosquito nets?

Are they out of their ever loving minds?

Kinda Fits With Sunday's Scripture

Not sure who we have that can sing that bad. :)

Gotta Serve Somebody

You may be an ambassador to England or France,
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage,
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage,
You may be a business man or some high degree thief,
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk,
You may be the head of some big TV network,
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame,
You may be living in another country under another name

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a construction worker working on a home,
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome,
You might own guns and you might even own tanks,
You might be somebody's landlord, you might even own banks

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk,
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk,
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread,
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy,
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy,
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray,
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Prayer for Today

Most Holy God
Who waited for me so many years
Who raced to meet me when I turned in repentance
Who patiently gave your love as I opened to the ability to accept it.
Hear my prayer.

Oh Omnipotent Spirit
Who rushed hope into me
Who encouraged me and guided me on
Who continues to confront, to instruct, to inspire
Hear my prayer

My Sovereign Lord
Who died for my sins
Who touched my leprous heart and made it new
Whose words and example are my pathway for life
Hear my prayer

I come to Ash Wednesday knowing
that I could not stand before Your judgment even now
after decades of being known as a Christian
except that the blood of the sinless One
had not covered my sins

Yet I come here aware
that when I entered into the embrace of my Lord and Savior
I was forgiven
He makes all things new.

He is so good to me.

So Abba, take the offering of these Lenten Days
make them a time when my prayers for more of You are less hindered
by my sins and failings
and when I find myself each day desperately seeking
more time
with You.


The Bible,really

"You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of good literature."


And Miles To Go Before I Rest

"From dust you came, to dust you will return."

Picked up an old journal yesterday that I used for a couple of years as a guide to prayer. Page after page listed the trials and joys of our congregation and of our family.

Turning pages brought me to timelines when people got better, or when things turned far worse. I could follow from doctor ordering tests, to not good, to chemo, and to requests for grace to bear the loss.

One young woman asked me to pray for her admission to a program at a local college. Later I prayed for her and for her fiance, and now that they are married and live far away, I pray.

I can flip pages in my mind and it's 1973. In one year I find true love and the Truth of God's grace. When it hit me just how far from God I was, and how incredible His offer of forgiveness was, I knew I had to change direction and live for Jesus.

Since then, God has blessed me with two sons, and chose me for use as a pastor for His people. I've made more mistakes than I can count, and yet I don't struggle as much with some sins that held me captive before.

Still, there are two things pressing on me as I begin the Journey through the 40 days of Lent.

Time is running...

and I am a long way from being the follower of Jesus my heart longs for. So I'm going into Lent with this on my mind.

Psalm 51 - The Message
1-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I've been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You're the One I've violated, and you've seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I've been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you're after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean,
scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don't look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don't throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I'll let loose with your praise.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Prayer for Today

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
an eye to watch, the might to stay,
an ear to harken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
a hand to guide, a shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
the heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
(Text attributed to Saint Patrick, trans. Cecil F. Alexander)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lenten Reading

I believe in Jesus,
who rose from the river
to see heaven opened
to the Spirit falling and the Father calling:
"I love you."

I believe in Jesus,
who walked to the desert
to be tried and tempted
with the Spirit leading and the devil calling:
"If you are"

I believe in Jesus
who stayed 40 days there
as he prayed and fasted
with his guts hurting and his breath smelling
"Turn these stones"

I believe in Jesus
who went with the devil
to be offered power
with the wild beasts roaring and the angels chanting
"Worship God"

I believe in Jesus
who looked down upon the city,
with a fear of falling
with the angels watching and the hard earth waiting
"It is written"

I believe in Jesus
truly God, truly human,
who was sorely tempted
with the same temptations we all are facing
"Yet without sin."

written by Doug Gay

A Prayer for Today

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

-attributed to Sir Francis Drake

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Hope @ Worship 2/22/2009

Okay,this coming week the dysfunctional relationship between all of us at New Hope and the office computer comes to an end. It's either fix it or hit it with the sledgehammer I found in the big shed. The worship guides for today were gobbled when it crashed when I hit print.

Had I not been under the influence of antihistamines, I'd have settled accounts with it right then and there.

We were ending a look at the "Crux" of Jesus' message in the Sermon on the Mount today, and looking forward to the beginning of the 40 days of preparation for Easter called Lent.

We began with Indescribable - a last minute change
Then Holy Is the Lord
Shout To the Lord
and "I Give You My Heart"

Lia Frisbee performed Ode to Joy as an offertory and she was magnificent.

The message...

I didn't get as much into it as I wanted to. By that I mean I wanted to reach out in and among the people in the congregation and asking them personally to lay their worries and their fears at the feet of Almighty God. I will trust that the Holy Spirit will do with my efforts what He will.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


We need churches with strong social ties that extend well beyond the boundaries of their buildings and families into neighborhoods and the city. In short, we need more Missional Communities not Programmed Sunday Events. HT - Church Planting Novice

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Costs Too Much To Change the Sign"

I heard my youngest deacon explaining to a visitor what they had just experienced last Sunday after worship. Didn't hear it all, but I caught the part where he said "yeah, the sign still says 'A Southern Baptist Church', but that's partly because it would cost too much to change it." His father was an SBC pastor. But he's a guy who wants to see things happen for Jesus, and ready to work to see it. All he's seen from the SBC is fussing and fighting for years.

I've been in a conversation with my friend and fellow Florida Pastor Tom Bryant about the SBC over the years. Tom's at FBC Osprey, and is seeing God move in amazing ways among the community. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a more godly and effective pastor. And the church he serves with should be an example of what can happen when people follow Jesus outside.

But this is the Southern Baptist Convention.

No one will notice.

He's in a small church. And though FBC Osprey participates fully in associational, state, and SBC life revolves around famous pastors and their mega-churches.

The SBC began as a way for small churches to band together so as to increase their impact missionally. But over the years it has morphed into a bureaucracy where the mega churches set the program, and where the smaller churches have little voice but contribute their monies. And when the larger entities in the SBC do something like bring out a racially insensitive VBS, or decide that Calvinists are evil, or take on Disney - guess who hears about it? Yep. We do.

The glue that holds the SBC together is the Cooperative program. The CP is dying. Not from lack of cash, but from lack of focused passion. It's an organization. It's separated from the local church so far now by the layers of assoc,state,IMB,NAMB etc that no one at church can tell a compelling story of what their gifts did.

We've become fans of professional Christians and turned missions into a spectator sport.

That should not be.

So if a local church decides that missions by proxy won't cut it, and finds a way to really do missions... well, I'll understand.

...and applaud.

I want people to change the SBC. I want those people to be deep into missions. Until the SBC is changed, they are being good stewards by only giving what's left over. It's a "Mary - Martha" thing. The SBC looks busy, does little that matters to the local church, and that's where the priority has to be.

I've had people like Tom, who I respect tell me, "You need to get involved and be the change you seek." What you are asking is akin to me heading to the beach and building a seawall out of sand. A waste of the limited time and resources I have to get involved with the convention. And even if I brought the max number of messengers with me, one mega church would have dozens more.

You want change? Here's my idea of what should happen.

Sell off Lifeway, make the seminaries self supporting. If they are that good, they'll make it. Work with local churches to keep people in the church serving, in their homes making a living for their families, and bring education to them. Ditch the 30 hours on campus requirement. Replace it with 30 hour internships or mentoring. Tell ATS to take a hike. Train pastors and planters. Work to make them able to serve bivocationally through dual degree programs in education, social work, the chaplaincy - get real. Most churches are small, and a pastor needs to be able to take care of his family, have health insurance, prepare for retirement.

Close NAMB or the state conventions - your pick, pare the bloat. Keep them (State Conv.)in areas where they are needed. But in states like AL,FL, GA??? Please. Churches should be planting churches. Sell off properties that are underused and put all that money into church planter support.

Build direct links between churches and missionaries and missionary action. Give us the same options we have with, Compassion, Samaritan's Purse - and a host of others. Don't make us fight to be involved. MAKE IT EASY!!! NATURAL!!!

And please quit trying to create a Baptist ghetto of SBC events when there are other opportunities you could partner with. There's a reason why attendance is down at SBC events. Why would I want to go to a State Convention when I could go to Catalyst?

Really, this is the most I've spent thinking about the SBC all year. Don't have the time or the inclination to be involved in the petty causes and silly infighting. I'd rather see people changing and lives redeemed.

Looking at Lent

Really starting to dial in on what we're going to do during the 40 day preparation for Easter that is traditionally called "Lent." The liturgical churches use a tool all the time called the "Lectionary." It rotates portions of Scripture for each Sunday so that over a 4 year period, a congregation is able to hear from the whole breadth of Scripture's witness to Jesus. At Lent, the focus is on the gospels.

I have listed the passages below in this hope - I want to hear from others about stories, works of art, music, drama - whatever might further enliven our walk with Christ to the cross.

Our Lenten journey will include celebration of the Lord's Supper every Sunday morning. It will include all sorts of media, participatory elements, and any other tools we can use to fully experience this season.

Take some time in the next few days and read these Scriptures. Then reflect on how they speak to you. How could we put their meaning into our modern context in such a way that we can be transformed more fully into the image of Christ?

Email me any insights or ideas you might have. - Thanks, David

First Sunday in Lent: March 1, 2009
Text: Mark 1:9-15

9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River.10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness,13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Mark 1:9-15 (NLT)

Second Sunday in Lent: March 8, 2009
Text: Mark 8:31-38

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.
33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:31-38 (NLT)

Third Sunday in Lent: March 15, 2009
Text: John 2:13-22

13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”
19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?”21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body.22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
John 2:13-22 (NLT)

Fourth Sunday in Lent: March 22, 2009
Text: John 3:14-21

14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. ”
John 3:14-21 (NLT)

Fifth Sunday in Lent: March 29, 2009
Text: John 12:20-33

20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.”22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!28 Father, bring glory to your name.”

Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.”29 When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.
30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine.31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”33 He said this to indicate how he was going to die.
John 12:20-33 (NLT)

Sixth Sunday in Lent/Palm Sunday: April 5, 2009
Text: Mark 11:1-11

1 As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.2 “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.3 If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’”
4 The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door.5 As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?”6 They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it.7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.
8 Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God!

Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!

Praise God in highest heaven!”

11 So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.
Mark 11:1-11 (NLT)

Good Friday: April 10, 2009
Text: John 18 and 19

1 After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples.3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.

“I Am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.)6 As Jesus said “I Am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”

And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I Am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.”9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
Jesus at the High Priest’s House
12 So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up.13 First they took him to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”
Peter’s First Denial
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus.16 Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in.17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”

“No,” he said, “I am not.”
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19 Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them.20 Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret.21 Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.”
22 Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”
24 Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25 Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
26 But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?”27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
28 Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover.29 So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?”
30 “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.
31 “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them.

“Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied.32 (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die. )
33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.39 But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”
40 But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)
John 18:1-40 (NLT)
1 Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip.2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him.3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
4 Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.”5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever.9 He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer.10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
12 Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
13 When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha).14 It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”
15 “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”

“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
16 Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion
So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha).18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them.19 And Pilate posted a sign over him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
22 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it. This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.
25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
The Death of Jesus
28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down.32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus.33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs.34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe. )36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
The Burial of Jesus
38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away.39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before.42 And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:1-42 (NLT)

Easter Sunday: April 12, 2009
Text: Mark 16:1-8

1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked,6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”
8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.
Mark 16:1-8 (NLT)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Looking at worship music tonight

We work hard at New Hope to do congregational worship music. That means that we dovery few of what usually are called "solos" or "special music." Instead we try to find and do songs that bring the whole Body into an experience of worship. Thought I'd throw out some songs I'm looking at for the next few weeks.

Did you hear the crowd singing along? Did you see the guy with his arms upraised and his eyes focused upward? Awesome!

Could we sing that to God, expectantly waiting in praise to see what He is going to do in Valparaiso?

Looking forward into Lent, as we approach the Cross??

wow! That's passion.

What an anthem of praise!

Might Be Help for Parents During Lent

We are a community of Christians, expressing our faith in Jesus Christ, clustered through a shared love for Him and our belief in certain core beliefs. Many of those we share with our brothers and sisters in Christ across denominational lines. Some are specific to our Baptist understanding, and though they may cause us to gather apart from other Christians, we stand together with them as followers of Jesus.

New Hope stands apart to a certain extent from our fellow Southern Baptists in that we do bridge over to ancient church practices of Advent and Lent. Lent begins soon, and we will be on that journey together as a church. Our worship will reflect that, and my prayer is that our everyday lives as an expression of worship will too.

Moving what's done at church to home is always a challenge. Maybe this book would be a help. I found it, and the site it comes from, to be promising. I need to drill down more, but at first glance it seems worth the time to do that.

From Families With A Purpose
Lent and Easter Family Devotions, Activities, and Calendar
Creation to Salvation
A Family Walk Through Lent

Every Lent, we symbolically travel the path from creation to salvation as we call to mind the saving works of the Lord as recounted in Holy Scripture. As we recall our history, we remember what sort of people we are called to become through the power of the Holy Spirit. Author Marci Alborghetti helps us to experience more deeply the creation-to-salvation dimension of our annual Lenten journey. As the family recounts together the biblical stories presented in this booklet, their awareness and appreciation of God's saving action throughout history will grow. 32 pages

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Finished the book over a 24 hour period and started reading it again immediately for greater comprehension. That doesn't mean that it is "thick", like say "Mere Christianity", where the reader would benefit greatly from a slow read spaced by reflection.

It means I want every last drop of insight.

There are some books that start out slow and you have to be patient until the author hits his stride. The Shack was like that.

Crazy Love begins with a serious look at the theology that provides foundation for Chan's life. As such, if you aren't careful, you might write the book off as another dry doctrinal treatise.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Read this book.

It will open you to how God works in the lives of people who are obsessed with pleasing Him.

It will dangle the prospect that you too might be His instrument for Kingdom change.

If you are already at work along that trail, it will remind you why and give you a cool drink of encouragement.

And for some, and I'd count myself in this group, it will serve as confirmation that those goals, passions, and deepest desires that God has laid on your heart are not hallucinations. Others like Francis Chan are on the same journey, following the same tracks our Master has left for us.

It's a good crazy - this Crazy Love.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oh Yeah, I Have Heroes

Marius is one of my heroes of faith. Pray for him.


The last few days I've been reminded constantly of the simpler times, at the beginning of my ministry, when it was so much easier to step out in faith - childish, sometimes (OK, often) silly, foolish faith. It was childish and foolish, but it gave me the opportunity to see God's direct actions in my life over and over again.

Like the time when I bought a one-way ticket to Vienna, Austria, in order to look for a Bible school or some other place where I can be trained to become a pastor. I knew no one in Austria, I did not speak German, I had no contacts of any sorts, I had no money to go back to Romania or to live for more than a day or two - but I knew the Lord called me to be a pastor, and, well, there I was! Within a few hours of entering Austria I had a place to live and was on the way to getting my scholarship to go to Capernwray in England for a one-year Bible School.

Or the time when, having received the visa to come to the UK, I had no money to buy the plane ticket - and yet I went to the travel agency and waited patiently in line, expecting the Lord to provide the money. It was the equivalent of my income for 5 months - but sure enough, the Lord provided them in an amazing way - but did so only after I got the first in line, facing the sales person and wondering what to tell her...

Or when I went back home to start a brand new church plant, having no clue how to plant a church, having no job, no income, no support structure, no backing of any sort - but trusting the Lord in all of this - AND asking him to give me at least 100 new believers within one year.
Sure enough, we passed the 100 mark exactly the same date one year later. As my little group and I shared the stories of the people we witnessed to and the many who prayed to receive the Lord that day, I suddenly realised we had lead to the Lord over 120 people - it was just over 20 people who had prayed the Lord into their life that day - and that afternoon was one year since I asked the Lord for those 100 people. Of course I was a bit upset - why didn't I ask for more?!? :-) And there are so many more stories like these...

I am now at a similar crossroads - I know I am where the Lord wants me, doing the service he asked me to do - and having no money, no support, no way to pay the bills and seeing no way forward. And this time around I find myself wavering, one moment I have that same unmovable faith I used to have - and the next, when faced with yet another bill, or yet another decision or question with no answer, I find myself wondering - what if the Lord will not step in this time? What if he will let me fail? I guess the experience of having failed to plant "Imagine" in Pittsburgh made me aware that sometimes faith is not enough. The Lord will answer - but his answer may be "No." Particularly when the situation is the way it is - I am not, like those years ago, in a poor country, in a church where people give all they can and more, but all we have simply falls short of what we need. I am in a church that has more than plenty, but chooses to back out of their responsibility to provide for the needs of the ministry - after having promised to do so only weeks ago. So, do I go out in faith, or do I stop, realising this problem is the result of disobedience on the part of the church? On the one hand, if they are not faithful, my duty is to continue in my own faithfulness. On the other hand - can I expect the Lord to make up for a shortfall stemming from disobedience?

Oh well - I have a couple of days to get the answer, and while it's scary, it is also exciting. Oh, the adrenaline rush of living by faith!


Well, if you were looking to rewind yesterday's message and listen to what was said again... oops! The stage mikes were so "hot" that I commented on them about one minute in, so our media guru killed them.

Which was exactly the right thing to do, assuming the speaker has turned on his lapel mike, and unfortunately he hadn't. So the MP3 had one minute on the front, and the invitation on the end. And yes, if you take out the middle, that IS probably some of your dream sermon timing. :)

The main idea was that the freedom we were intended to have received from Jesus has been "Lost in Translation" as we have added man made rules and restrictions to it. Using an early example of it happening - Galatians after all being written primarily to try to eliminate such rules.

We develop over time a system of what religious people of the period would have called "hedges". These "hedges" could also be called "boundary markers" which serve for those who erect them as limits to their freedoms in Christ. They also serve as an evisceration of faith being expressed through the choices we make though. If there's a "rule" we do not have to stop and consider what God would have us do. No need to live by the Spirit's call. No need to be still and know - the rule covers it.

You probably have some. I gave examples of some I have encountered as well as some I have constructed over the years yesterday.

Think of them as "You can't be a Christian if..." statements.

Could be things like drinking alcoholic beverages, watching TV, reading Harry Potter, being rich, buying your kids gadgets, sending them to public school, voting Republican, voting Democrat. Could be almost anything.

They are not prohibited by Scripture. They are left to the individual Christian's decision under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

To get a little tougher about it - which I actually intended to do yesterday...

They don't matter.

The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.


And that love is defined by Jesus Himself when He outlined the Greatest Commandment.

"Love God with all your heart, with all your soul,with all your mind. And the follow on "Love your neighbor as yourself."

We work so hard at times to push people out of the circle of faith.

My mission yesterday was to help the people of New Hope draw a bigger circle. As expressed by this poem.

He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

"Outwitted" by Edwin Markham

My hope is that New Hope would be known as a place where people can come to begin an exploration of what it might mean to love Jesus. If we have to hand them anything other than the Scriptures to explain how to do that, (our own "rules") we're going to push them away.

Be in prayer over how we can hold fast to that which was delivered once and for all, and shed ourselves of anything else.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday evening mind dump

- short week, but filled with God's grace
- preached too long today - wound up reading far more Scripture than I planned
- never seen that many visitors in my life
- doing Revolution to set the theme was a blast - we need to do more thematic elements
- Brianna Caine rocked the offertory! And I loved the cheers from her family. Awesome!
- great to see Robert and Virginia Hughes there
- looking forward to next week already

Music was: "Revolution", "O Worship the King", "Our God Saves", "Whole World In His Hands,", "My Jesus, I Love Thee"

Message was "Lost In Translation" - Galatians 5

Too many graphics. Too long. But I hope that God uses it to move someone closer to Him.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

That's Change I Do Believe In

From Drop Box


"Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It's the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. "
— Frederick Buechner

His Eye Is On All His Creations

When we were getting my mother-in-love settled into Heartland Thursday, I looked out her window and saw a dozen of her favorite birds - cardinals.

Dot has cardinals all over her home. She loves them.

On a hard day, during a hard time, I think her heavenly Father knew she needed something extra. So He made sure she'd see this.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!
1 John 3:1 (NLT)

Whole different vibe in T-shirts

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.John 15:3-6 (KJV)

Okay, I Can Do Cute Too

Bunny's been posting so many cute pictures and videos, I just wanted to point out that I can do cute too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm Borrowing Trouble

/rant on - you were warned

One of the cardinal tenets that was handled down to me from my Grandmother was "don't borrow trouble." I think she meant that there's no reason to go looking for trouble. She had seen plenty, and I'd usually follow her advice.

But today I'm going to write something I don't have to.

Some churches need to close.

If you haven't clicked away already, maybe you are wondering "what prompted this?", or you are thinking about DQ ice cream cakes - ok, maybe that's just me. Well to answer the question, I was in Macon Georgia this week. You know Macon, right? Home of the Cherry Blossom Festival, Otis Redding, and the Nu Way wiener. It's also home to one of the greatest concentration of churches in the South, which probably means the world.

So I'm at the Medical Center of Central Georgia, and I bump into one of the most diligent servants of God I have ever known. There's no telling how many miles he has traveled over the years visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes. He's one of those people called a deacon - but he actually is one in the truest sense of the word.

And he's also a member of a church that needs to die. I'm not going to name the church, but it would be easy for anyone with some knowledge of Macon's history to figure it out.

The church used to occupy the corner of Mercer University's campus. To be the campus church of one of the largest centers of Baptist education meant that it took in and sent out many a pastor, missionary, and other servants dedicated to bringing the good news to people far from God. Yet when one of those who was reached left his native Africa and came to study at Mercer, he was barred from worshiping in the campus church.

The church had to move from the campus because it refused to change. It refused to welcome people of color. A few years later it was instrumental in starting a private school to help white people leave the public schools, so they wouldn't have to sit next to black people.

It moved into a brand new building in the fastest growing area of Macon, and spent a few years enshrining tradition. There were pastors who had "family ministries" and those who had radio spots. They grew with the area, and moderated some, but remained aloof from culture's changes. Long story short, the last pastor brought reformed theology in and wound up out.

So now, they cling to life.

Hearing of where they are now in terms of membership, about their ancient interim pastor with health troubles, that they are $2000 short each month, I was surprised when my friend said, "and we just elected a pulpit committee to look for a pastor, though I don't know how we are going to pay him."

Then he said, "I guess we are just going to have to step out in faith."

It took everything I had not to say, "Why not just step out and let it die."

Generational sin. Refusal to give more than lip service to "love your neighbor as yourself." Worship of tradition and glory given to people. Veneration of man made objects and denigration of the image of God.

Just let it die.

/rant off

Thursday, February 12, 2009

“The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them away.”

If Jesus showed up today,what would He think about this "stimulus plan?"

Live from NPC: Shane Claiborne | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders
The main event this evening was Shane Claiborne, who spoke about the “new economic vision” that God gives his people in Scripture. An important first step to understand Scripture’s economic vision is “learning to laugh in the face of things in the world [like money] that don’t have real power.” He spent most of his time unpacking Mark 10:29-30, by suggesting that, in God’s economy, there is enough for everyone because no one has more than he needs. He quoted an early Christians who said that a person who has two coats when someone has none was considered a thief in the kingdom of God; when you give to the poor, you’re simply giving back what has been stolen.

He argued that the “end of poverty was one of the signs of the birthday of the church,” and that loving our neighbors is not an “act of distant charity” but a matter of entering into relationship with our needy neighbors. This great summary line came late in his talk: “The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them away.” Then he put his money where his mouth was. Shane cashed the honorarium check that NPC paid him for his sermon tonight into $1 bills. As he concluded, he had someone bring a bag of the dollar bills to him; then he scattered them on the floor and invited everyone to come take one “as a sign of God’s jubilee.”

I found it difficult to gauge the audience’s response to Shane’s presentation. They were quiet and subdued; not hostile by any means, but not enthusiastic. I think his message struck home. I, for one, found it deeply convicting.

me too

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Renewing Theological Education

Most of the readers of this blog know that I have been working on graduate degrees in theology or theological disciplines for many, many years. I began immediately after my call into the ministry in 1991, at the Marietta Campus of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. For almost two years I worked on a Masters of Divinity degree there. We met at Roswell Street Baptist Church, and almost all of the professors flew in from New Orleans each week,taught in Marietta, then flew back to New Orleans and taught there. I drove up from Macon, about a 90 minute drive, every Monday afternoon, and left after class, arriving home around midnight.

When we moved to Florida, once I was reasonably sure that we would remain here, I reapplied for admission at New Orleans and began work at their Graceville Florida extension. I would drive over on Monday afternoon and take a class or two. It was about an hour and fifteen minute drive over there. In this case the professors were either local pastors with doctorates, professors at the Baptist College of Florida (on whose campus we met)or the content was delivered over TV live from New Orleans most of the time or rarely from one of the other extension centers.

My attendance was predicated mostly on money and time. If I had enough of both, I would attend. If not, I wouldn't. Over the years I had some great experiences in class at NOBTS. I also attended some Saturday classes on campus in New Orleans in order to try to satisfy the requirement the accrediting board places on them to have 30 hours of on campus work as part of the degrees. The credits I lack now for that degree are solely because of that requirement. It ran afoul of time AND money. To take a week was hard. To get the money was hard. To take a week and get the money for the course AND for the stay in New Orleans was impossible. So I lack 17 hours of on campus credit to this day.

Along comes Rockbridge Seminary with an innovative delivery system, a Purpose Driven paradigm, and a cost that I could manage. They weren't Southern Baptist, but had SBC people at the top of their leadership team. They weren't accredited, but had people in leadership who knew exactly what would be needed to achieve that. I began in 2004 and except one hiatus went straight through and just finished my Masters there.

Sam Simmons, cofounder of Rockbridge asked today on Facebook about whether the seminaries can stand outside the conversation that most institutions are having today concerning the delivery of information to students. He references this video.

I commented on Facebook but ran out of room. ( no surprise there :) ) Here's what I said expanded to fit this space.

Seminaries desperately need to immerse themselves in the Church. Technology is a tool to accomplish that, but only a tool. We need to connect the learners, the learning, and the work the learners are doing in their contexts. Are you teaching for information or for action?

I interacted with people in ministry all over the world during my Rockbridge years. It was an eyeopening experience to hear about how ministry was done in Singapore, South Africa, in Korea and other places around the globe. If an effort was made to bring more ministries together through the seminary... in other words for the seminary to become a serving AND sending unit using the social networking tools we have now - you have a revolution in the effect a seminary education can have.

And if we enlisted graduates across the world who were willing to mentor (even open internships for Rockbridge students, host mission trips by their churches, partner in plants, whatever God leads) we would take it to another level.

Establish "cohorts" of graduates to continue their conversations and interaction for continuing ed. Create a chorus of dreamers who want to see what Rockbridge delivered to them distilled and focused for even more impact.

Rockbridge needs some serious networking focus externally, and some serious networking focus internally if it wants to lead the other seminaries to the future. It needs to show to the Church (big "C") what its students and graduates are doing around the world to expand the Kingdom of God. Explore partnerships with leading edge ministries and expand the ones you have.

Random thoughts...

P.E.A.C.E. plan equipping should be a no-brainer. - they have a grip on what's coming and are continually rolling out new ideas.
Mark Batterson and the movie church guys. Who trains planters to do that? Offer courses for different contexts. Urban planting by Tim Keller, Batterson or the like. How to start service outreaches by Steve Sjorgen.
There are numerous ministries out there today who are looking to expand the Kingdom and not afraid to try something new. Go see them. Pray with them. Share dreams with them.
Worldwide - can you leverage that to help groups in AUS, SA, ESP,etc who need training but can't go get it?

Yes - go talk. Go share. GO!

Taking Chance

We're going to need more tissues.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

"That has an integrity you can't argue with"

Neue Ministry | Join the Conversation
Q: What does Jesus’ political agenda look like in today’s world?

A: We’re saying that the church is not simply suggesting political alternatives but the church is an embodiment of a political alternative. Jesus wasn’t offering the world a better empire but another kingdom. That’s part of why we have so many images and stories in the book to show that. One of my she-roes is Mother Theresa, she is an icon for what it means to be pro-life but it’s not because she ran around wearing an “Abortion is Murder” shirt. She said, if you didn’t want to have your babies, you can give them to me. That has an integrity that you can not argue with.

Jesus had a political manifesto in the Sermon on the Mount and the beatitudes and the poor are at the very center of it. So if our political agenda is not good news to the poor, then it’s not the gospel of Jesus.


Sunday Night Mind Dump

Sitting here reflecting over the day - the week really.

- Realized again what a blessing it is to be able to interact with Bunny's piano students. As a direct result of those openings we welcomed Sam Hickman into the Kingdom this week and the Hickman family as part of our New Hope family.
- Was stunned when I put the pieces together this morning as it was unfolding and caught a glimpse of what God was doing in and through worship. Originally I was to preach today's message last week, but with baptism stepped away. This morning so many who were in attendance needed to hear it. Who wouldn't have heard it last week. You go God!
- Almost overwhelmed with emotion while singing "Forever"

Sing praise, sing praise
Sing praise, sing praise
Forever you are faithful
Forever you are strong
Forever you are with us

- again, people I love deeply are going through such tough times right now. To suddenly be flooded with the understanding of what God's love MEANS in the middle of singing a song...?
- I think they call that "worship"
- had three sermons going on this week - same passage - different angles - finally decided that the "Counter-cultural" was the "hook" it needed to get an audience
- "Something is wrong when our lives make too much sense to unbelievers." Francis Chan
- Whoever tried to take emotion out of walking the walk with Jesus was nuts. Passion drives action. Apathy is death.
- Looks like youth are going to W.Va. again on mission.
- I think Bunny and I will wind up going somewhere else if we're able to go. Maybe with another church,or a para-church organization.
- "Experiencing God" small groups start tomorrow night. I'm investing a lot into this and praying God will create a real revival through it.
- must be out of brain cells /end

Friday, February 06, 2009


We live in a military community, so it's easy to hear an echo of "Duty, Honor, Country" here. But I want to step away from that right now and go directly to the way we live out our faith.

Looking back to the very foundation of God's written communication with man - the tablets that Moses was given on Mt Sinai, the word "honor" comes up.

“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Ex 20:12 (NLT)

The first few commandments deal with man's relationship with God. They are crafted to outline man's responsibilities to God. Left alone, we are so prone to turn to lesser gods of no worth whatsoever including our own selfish desires. So a loving God gave us guidelines to keep our hearts focused on what is best for us.

The next commandments give us guidelines to govern our human relationships. Why would that be necessary? Can't we simply do right by God and know we'll treat each other well?

When I was thinking about this, I realized that mankind is the only species that lives on earth that takes care of their aged. All kinds of animals take care of their young. A blue-jay will take you on regardless of your size should you get too near the nest his young are in. Left to our own animal nature then, we would do the same. Take care of our young and ignore the needs of the aged.

So God,again in love and calling us to what is best, in the very first of the guidelines - says "honor your father and mother." And by honoring the aged we rise above the base urges and step into the life of loving obedience to God we were created for.

The fifth commandment has more to do with medical care, old-age pensions, and retirement homes than with using the last phrase as an aid to discipline your children into doing what is right. It means quite simply when your Mama and Daddy have to depend on you, don't let them down. Honor your father and mother. When age begins to take its toll, you must step up and do whatever you can.

Although Social Security, Medicare, and pensions can do much to help us, no system can honor your parents for you. It means giving them every dignity you can. The root of the Hebrew word for honor means to "weigh heavy." The people who have "weighed me heavy" are those who have contributed most to my life: my parents, my wife and my children — to them I owe great respect and honor.

Don't miss your opportunity to give honor to your aging parents. It is through such acts of kindness that we say no to a culture in which the newest is put in preeminence, and follow the way of Christ.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lord Bless This Mess

What if genuine faith begins with admitting we will never have our act completely together? Maybe messy disciples are exactly the kind of imperfect people Jesus came to earth for and whose company he actually enjoyed--and still enjoys. If you want to find Jesus today, look for him in the midst of burned-out believers, moral misfits, religious incompetents . . . men and women whose lives are, well, messy. The poor in spirit if you will. I heard Jesus said they were "Blessed"

And who desperately cling to Jesus

Mike Yaconelli wrote this:

“Turns out all of the biblical characters were a complex mix of strengths and weaknesses. David, Abraham, Lot, Saul, Solomon, Rahab, and Sarah were God-loving, courageous, brilliant, fearless, loyal, passionate, committed holy men and women who were also murderers, adulterers, and manic depressives. They were men and women who could be gentle, holy, defenders of the faith one minute, and insecure, mentally unstable, unbelieving, shrewd, lying, grudge-holding tyrants the next.”

Yeah buddy. We got issues.

But to quote Jesus - "Who needs a doctor - the healthy or the sick?"

Lord, what once I had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do - with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;
So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and truth,
Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,
Round to his best - young eyes and heart and brain.

--- George MacDonald, "The Diary of an Old Soul"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

—Margaret Mead,
noted anthropologist


"Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be a part of." Geri Weitzman

It just wasn't working for me, and for a lot of people. Church was something you did because you were expected to. Nothing ever changed that much as a result of participation in it. Not in the world, not in the community, and not really in you.

Over the years I'd ask people where the real spiritual leaps in their faith occurred. Or said another way, "when have you really felt God's presence?"

I would go for years without hearing anyone say "at church."

And I so wanted them to.

You see I do believe that the church is the best hope for the world. That through God's people - battered and bruised by sin but given new hearts and new lives though Christ's sacrifice - things could change.

The lost - the missing - the invisible among us... Could be found.

The widows - the orphans - the poor... Could be fed, could be cared for.

The community - our neighbors - our coworkers... Could be simply... loved.

Regardless of color, regardless of age, regardless of income, regardless.

And the people who gather each week to share a worship experience together, would then leave and continue to worship God with all their hearts,with all their minds, with all their souls - everywhere.

I've wanted a place for those outside, where I wouldn't have to apologize for what we do, but where we could share how great God's love is and how amazing His grace is.

Are we all the way there?

No. We still have miles to go before we sleep.

But I can feel it coming true - this dream I have.

I can feel it.

4th Annual Chili Cookoff - we was robbed


I'm thinking that Craig's victory in the chili cookoff may have had as much to do with his uh "marketing" as it did with his cooking.

Just saying...

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Love Wins!

This is the face of the love of Christ.

She lives in Vietnam, a communist country that officially is opposed to Christianity. But love will find you.

She's been taken into the family of a man (through a World Vision sponsorship) who served two tours in Vietnam. He was a soldier. The sounds and sights of battle still are with him, and the loss of friends still aches. For many years he has carried animosity toward the people of Vietnam. He's not alone in that. Some would say "It's only natural."

Well, the love of Christ is SUPERNATURAL.

So Larry Smith Sr., Veteran of Vietnam, former infantryman with the Blue Spaders of the Big Red One, is so filled with the love of Christ that he felt compelled to move against that which had held him captive for so long.

And Love won.

That's why we call our community... New Hope.

Monday, February 02, 2009

They also serve

There's so much to see in this picture.