Great job tonight at the Fall Festival and Fall Festival part Deux! John Morgan, your awesome! Thanx for having my back! I appreciate you from the moment we moved to Mobile. You have been a great friend. Greg and Andrew did an awesome job with the music. Greg, great job with the youth band! They have come a long way in a short time. Thanx for allowing God to use you! Neil, thanks for your help. You looked great as Slash. Whitney, thanx for your help. You looked great in you comstume. Angela, congrats on being on TV. Can I have your autograph? It was a great time. Thanks again.
Joe Kennedy, emergent newsletter and Jason Burns all have written about the tragic death of Kyle Lake yesterday while performing a baptism. Wow! Life is short. I remember when he started University Baptist Church in Waco, TX. I was in seminary @ Southwestern and was hearing about this radical church in a "baptist" college town. Waco is also where David Koresh lived. UBC was doing cutting edge ministry. David Crowder has been the worship leader there for years. My heart hurts for his family and his church. I can't imagine how horrifying that must have been for his family and church to see him die while performing one of the ordinances of the church!
You just never know when God will call us home. My father had 2 fine young college students working for him with Campus Life named Marty Jordan and Brown Matthews. They were unbelievable worship leaders and song writers. While traveling to a church to lead in worship they were involved in a tragic car accident. Brown was killed instantly. Why would God take a 23 year old young man who was serving Him? When I lived in Jacksonville, NC I had a 16 year old young man named Harold Geilow who led our youth worship that was killed in a tragic car accident. He had just told our church he was called into vocational ministry. Why would God allow this to happen? I don't have the answers. Dozens of people accepted Christ at Brown's funeral. I led Harold's memorial and 6 adults accepted Christ there! I have no idea what God will do with UBC and Kyles family. It just convinces me more for the need to press on and do relevant ministry. In fact if there is a way to honor Kyle and other pioneers like him, is to push the envelope and as Jason says Seize the Day!
Today I got to hear and have lunch with a man who was in a singing group I used to listen to as a teenager and young adult. Jim Murray of the Imperials sang at our church. He and his wife are nice people and he has a great voice. Honestly, the only part of the Imperials I ever liked was Russ Taff and Paul Smith who replaced Russ. They rocked. Jim is more of a southern gospel singer. He was with the Gaither vocal band. I don't care for that type of music. Tonight our youth and young adults were conspicuously absent. Why? I don't think it was relevant to them. I can't say I blame them. I sat there wondering who was this ministering to? I can't imagine a lost person coming to hear him because they don't have a clue who he is. He also has a "Bailey Smith" testimony. I won't even go there! He is a very nice man and I'm sure he ministers to a certain group of people. But I don't think the Gaithers or any of that Homecoming type of setting is relevant to youth and young adults. It was Christian entertainment and not a type that I enjoy. I feel the same way about Truth and the other boy or girl band knock-offs. I would rather hear a praise band @ church where I can be a part of the worship-not being in a performance.
Things that were relevant 20 years ago are not anymore. Things that were relevant last year are old. We live in a rapidly changing society. We as Christian leaders have to be sensitive to this cultural change and look for ways to be relevant. I'm not saying we should be trendy. Each community is different than others. But the days of opening up the church doors and lost people walking thru the doors is over. My prayer is that my ministry will always be relevant.
I have been a evangelical Christian since I was 5 years old. My dad was on staff with YFC/Campus Life for 30 + years and now with Campus Crusade's Military Ministry. I have been a member of a Southern Baptist Church for most of my life. I am even a North American Mission Board Missionary. Recent events make me embarrassed to be to be labeled either. In fact events since I was in seminary have made me want to hide. While at Southwestern the seminary trustees fired our President Russell Dilday. He is a fine man. He was 62 at the time and would retire soon but because they wanted to show their power.
Tom Brokaw hosted a show on NBC last night about evangelical Christians. The show made us all look like we were right-wing Republican zealots! I am as conservative as they come but politics and government are not going to change the world. Only Jesus can! We can't legislate morality and no law is going to make this a Christian country. I am glad our President is a follower of Christ. But I don't think Jesus is a member of any political party.
Then Joe Kennedy posted this article. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about alcohol. You can put all of the alcohol I have ever had in a small cup. The only time I have ever drank alcohol is at an Episcopal church communion. I have never even tasted beer. I'm not being a prude, its just my Grandfather was an alcoholic and I don't want to end up like Jim on TAXI. Anyway, I don't believe drinking alcohol is a sin, BUT I do believe it is a bad testimony in today's society. Back when Jesus was on earth the worst think that could happen if you go drunk is you could fall off a camel. Today, you can kill someone if you drive drunk or fly drunk! Too many people in my opinion in the "emergent" movement think that they can flaunt their "freedom" in Christ by drinking alcohol. On the ooze I converse with people who put beer as their avatar. I don't think Jesus died for that.
However, I can't believe that some SBC leaders decided not to hand out free water just because it came from Anheuser-Busch. Do you think Jesus really cares? Maybe Anheuser-Busch supplied the water to Jesus to change into wine. Maybe not. However, we need to choose our battles a little more carefully. Boycotting Disney? Please! It makes us look like we hate Mickey Mouse. I'm for being for stuff rather than against it! Jesus was pro people. He loved sinners and I am one! Lets pick our battles a little better in the future.
Proverbs 4:5 New International Version Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.
Proverbs 15:33 New International Version The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Proverbs 19:8 New International Version He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.
James 1:5 New International Version If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
I am grateful for knowing many wise people. I pray daily for wisdom. But I know any wisdom I get is not from my own smarts. I get wisdom 1st from God, second from family and friends and lastly from my studies. This week I spent time seeking wisdom from God. Even more so I talked to friends from all over the country. I am grateful for their friendship and their wisdom. I respect them not because they are smart (which each one is) but because they are close to God. Everyone of them has a close, intimate relationship with Jesus and it shows. I have made bonehead decisions in my life. That is why I am so grateful for these wise people. Some are men, others are women. Each of them is known for their prayers. I pray for them and I know that they pray for me.
Wayne Cordeiro said in a recent message I watched on his website that wisdom comes after we go through difficult times. James 1:2-4 New International Version Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. So we ask for wisdom after we go thru difficulties. I'm just glad that God thinks enough of me to allow me to go thru trials. I ask God to give me wisdom daily. I thank God He has given me wise friends and family members.
I can take criticism when I know the one doing it cares about me. There are certain people in my life who have earned the right to point out areas I need to work on and I will listen and usually work on what they have pointed out. My parents esp. my dad has a way of lovingly pointing out areas in my life I need to change. Cassandara does also. My friend Thomas Hammond is a get in your face type of guy but I know he cares about me. Jason Burns has also helped me greatly. Rob Jackson in Decatur, AL is very wise and eventhough our styles of ministry differ I respect him greatly. Dr. Bob Horner my former pastor has earned the right also. I would gladly listen to Angela, John, Whitney, Greg, Soup, Neil, Dana and Steve and maybe a few more @ FBTC because I know they care about me. (Just for the record, this isn't happening now, it was just on my mind from the past.)
There are other people who I feel have agendas. Not a church, but their own agenda. They want the music a certain way. They want their family ministered to, they want to be fed...... Ugghh! John Morgan sent me a quote that said churches don't have a eating problem, they have an exercise problem. I am convinced that most criticisim would go away if people would just do ministry. If they would get involved and make a difference for Christ. I'm sure we all have agendas, including me. I have given my agenda to God and I hope that His agenda is becoming me rather than the other way around.
Now even evil or agenda driven people can have good points. Eventhough their method may stink or hurt, we can't ignore their criticism. A few years ago I had an ugly incident where several "well meaning" men called me out @ night to talk about their concerns in the church. They had wrong motives and what they said hurt. But I had to realize that some of what they said was true. They had an agenda, but I made some necessary changes in my life even through the ugly stuff they said.
I am grateful for those who care about me enough to help me grow in my faith and as a person.
I have been part of some creepy things in my life. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a conspiracy person or a person who looks for satan in under every bush! But tonight I truly believe satan did not want me to speak to our students. Our youth staff met last week and decided that I should talk about the Occult tonight because halloween is on Monday. The breakers in the attik popped at least 6-7 times. The sound system didn't work right. We had to change microphones 3-4 times. My microphone wasn't working right. The freon in the a/c went out tonight and it was a cool night. But it was hot in the attik. It was so hot I was having trouble speaking. The students were intersted in the subject. I really believe satan didn't like what I was talking about. I haven't felt that kind of oppression in some time.
Before I got married my roomate and I had the same dream on the same night where we felt we were above our bodies and we were screaming for help. We wonder if there was previous occult activity in that apartment. My roomate, Rob is a Senior Pastor in Decatur, AL and his wife and Cassandra are best friends from home. I have had other strange things happen in my life that I truly believe that I was under oppression. satan is a real person ( I purposely leave his name in small caps). satan is powerful. But God is more powerful. Should we be concerned about satan, yes. He is deceptive. But followers of Jesus don't have to worry about his powers overtaking Jesus. Jesus defeated satan on the cross. But he does still try to ruin our ministries.
Last year I applied to speak in high schools and colleges for Making it Count a division of Monster. It would allow me to speak around the Mobile area part-time in addition to working @ FBTC and make up for some missing income. They never hired anyone for the area and then advertised for the position again last spring. I talked to someone on the phone on 2 different occasions. I never got a rejection letter or an offer. Now they are advertising again.
I can handle rejection. What I can't handle is unprofessionalism. At least send an e-mail telling people where they stand. I have seen this on many occasions. People these days don't have common courtesy! What happened to sending thank you notes? What happened to treating people better than yourself?
Some people are good at this. I stopped by to say hello to my former pastor in Atlanta a few weeks ago. A week later I received a nice note from him thanking me for stopping by to see him. No wonder he is successful. I'm sure I have missed sending thank you notes in the past. But I try to be grateful. I try keep people's feelings in mind. I try to put myself in their place. I just wish people were more professional.
I'm kind of sad. Cassandra and I bought our first bedroom furniture from Rhodes furniture 16 years ago. I went by there today because they are going out of business after 130 years. In recent years many of the greatest companies in the US and the world are no longer. K-mart is now Sears Essentials. Wilco, Wolworths, Zayer, Homelife, Shoneys, Rich's, Gayfers, Caster-Knot, Eastern Airlines, TWA, and others are either out of business or absorbed by another company. Even AT&T is a non player. What happened?
I think the world is changing so radically that these companies have not kept up with the changes. That happens in church life also. Some of the "great" churches of just a decade ago are dying. The members want to serve themselves and have become irrelevant to their communities. My fear is that FBTC will become another great church that goes south. We have already seen that just in the almost 3 years I have been here. Last weekend we had half the people we did my first Sunday.
I talked to a great friend of mine (Ken Nuss) in Gulfport, MS yesterday. Hurricane Katrina literally wiped out their building. It has been a blessing in disguise. They are becoming a "NEW" church! They were a traditional church before Katrina. But God has a way of changing things in an instant. They had to move to the local high school and change the way they operate. They are no longer "doing church" they are "being the church." They will now no longer have Sunday PM services. They will not have Sunday School anymore. They are meeting in homes with small group Bible Studies. They will not even have a choir anymore! They are moving to contemporary music. Unbelievable! Katrina has been used by God to make them a relavant church in Gulfport! I'm jealous! Their pastor gave the vision for the "NEW" FBCG last week. Their new focus is Faith, Family and others! They are streamlining their ministries so they can make a difference in Gulfport. WOW! I think more churches should be affected by Katrina in the way First Baptist Gulfport has been affected!
I had the opportunity to speak at a church for a friend of mine this weekend. The pastor was suppose to be there but his wife went to the hospital yesterday morning because she had not felt her unborn baby move in 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the baby died. Wow, that is tough. Life is tough. It doesn't work out the way we plan it to. People turn on you, our health suffers or people's we love, finances turn and families fall apart. Life often throws us a curve. Our world is changing rapidly. If you don't keep up with the changing times you get left behind. Life throws us a curve. I'm fortunate to have friends and family who love me and pray for me. When life throws me a curve I can count on them to be supportive. But even they can't make up for the pain and heartache I feel or even you feel from time to time. When life throws us a curve, the only person we can count on is God. Even when He doesn't seem to make sense.
In Narnia there is a line about the Lion (representing God) that says he is tough but fair or something like that. It has been a long time since I read it. But I think that God is confusing. I don't understand why some of our prayers are answered the way we want and others are not. Even when we have the right motives. Life will throw us a curve, but God is good!
I love seeing God's calling on lives. I love seeing people come to a relationship with Jesus. But I really get pumped when I see God calling people into vocational ministry. I remember how God worked on my life until I said yes. The past month I have had 3 different individuals in our ministry tell me how God has been moving on their live and they feel called to vocational ministry. Awesome! It comes as no suprise! When you are around people who God is moving in you can see it. In Acts 4:13 it says that the Sanhedrin were amazed that Peter and John who were ordinary men could speak with boldness. It wasn't a seminary degree or Bible school that gave them power. The last part of the verse says that the Sanhedrin took notice that they had been with Jesus. My prayer is that we will all spend so much time Jesus that people take notice. I always can tell when people have spent time with Jesus by their actions. It doesn't matter what they say, it is how they live their lives.
I saw a billboard that had a quote from a young boy who had a physical problem. The quote said, "I feel like a fish out of water." Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you are just different than other people you are around? Like maybe your from another planet? I have been in meetings the last two days that make me feel that way. Nobody was ugly to me. No one pointed fingers, its just their ideas and vision were not in line with my vision. Maybe there is something wrong with me. I just feel like my vision for stuff is so much bigger. I don't like guilt trips and that occurs too often. Moving from a larger, faster pace city, there are things I have seen that others have not. I attend conferences like Catalyst that get my engines going and then someone here pulls the drain plug and my engine locks up. I'm not saying I can't learn things from traditional church backgrounds. But I don't want to do things that have been done for centuries (ok, decades) just because. I just keep my mouth shut and try not to cause trouble. For me, that is hard. I am an opinionated person as most people know. I believe our new pastor is a great fit for this church! He is a Godly man and he has integrity. He supports our ministry eventhough his ideas may be different than mine. I support him fully and will never cause him trouble. Others I don't know about. I just feel like a fish out of water.
Today I'm going to radically change the way I look on the outside. I don't know what people are going to think. I guess I'm doing it because I feel different on the inside. I feel like I'm ready to burst! I have so many ideas ready to flow, yet I feel like someone has turned off the facuet. I feel like it has been super-glued shut. I have tried to get the youth center opened for 6 months now on Monday nights. I can't get what I need to allow us to do so. My ideas for evangelism are different than others. I may be wrong, but they work in more progressive churches. I feel like a fish out of water. I can't be a fake! I am who I am. I don't know where I fit in. I'm frustrated. I'm tired. I'm burned out. The one thing I know is that God has stripped me of a lot. I am no longer committed to Him, I am Submitted to Him. I feel like a fish out of water!
I'm grateful to those who have a similar vision or have aligned their vision with mine. John, Greg, Angela, Neil, Whitney, Dana and Steve, Spots, Mike, Jason and Tammy and many of our youth. I will keep trying to push a vision of reaching out to those who don't fit in. I will keep pushing for those who feel like God has let them down. I won't stay down. I never do. I see glimmers of hope! I champion the cause of those who feel like fish out of water.
I love free stuff. Who doesn't right. But in ministry there are so many things I would like to get but just can't afford it all. Thankfully God puts people in our lives that provide for our needs. That is what is cool about the body of Christ. We need each other. Our student center the attik needed a pizza warmer. Well maybe we didn't need it but I wanted it. Dana and Steve Harbin just bought us one! Cool! Now we can sell pizza @ all of our events. On top of that we have a nacho cheese warmer. Chezzy! Sorry, I thank God there are people that can be used by God to further our ministries. Come for a slice on Wed. The staff (Neil, Angela and Whitney) will need to try it out tomorrow to make sure it works before we allow our students to eat it (if you know what I mean). I love pizza! I love freebies! I love the way God provides!
You are driven and excited about new things and like to get stuff done (or at least mostly complete). You're not afraid of bigger, more challenging tasks because you know that the worst thing that could happen still isn't really all that bad. You probably have lots of hobbies already, but trying something new can be fun anyway.
Our Potentially Ridiculous Hobby Suggestion For You: Juggling Juggling is an impressive trick. We'd suggest starting with scarves, then graduating to tennis balls, then go for really messy food items like squid and broccoli (classic juggling items).
Today I attended the birthday party of a special girl. Collette Pate is a little girl who has experienced a lot of pain over the last 6 months. She was diagnosed with cancer and has been going thru chemo for the last few months. Her parents asked me to lay hands on her and annoint her with oil a few months ago at our church. I was happy to do so. Well, the latest news is that the cancer has shrunk from the size of a grapefruit to a walnut! God does still answer prayers. Sometimes He doesn't do it the way we want it to happen but He does answer. Last November I prayed over and annointed a woman in our church that was unable to have a child. She just wanted God to give her and her husband a child anyway He chose. Last month they brought home their adopted and very loved baby and had him at church last week! God has answered prayers of so many throughout the centuries.
I wonder why He doesn't answer everyones? Although, maybe He does its just not the way we want it answered. I believe God still answers prayers. The problem is most people really don't pray. The only time they pray is when they get in trouble. Prayer is just communicating with God. The only way we get to know anyone is spending time with a person.
Bill Hybels book Too Busy Not To Pray made such a huge impact on my life 11 years ago that I re-read it a few months ago. His premise is that people say they have no time to pray, but Hybels argues that we are too busy not to pray. I have been writing out my prayers ever since I read this book and it has changed my prayer life. I have seen answers. I can also go back and see how God has worked in my life. It also slows down an ADD person like me! Prayer is un-natural. But there is nothing natural about God. The only way to truly see God's power at work is to plug into Prayer!
Roll Tide! Alabama is finally back! I know we barely beat Ole Miss but a W is a W! Considering they have fewer scholarship players than everyone else, I will take 6-0!
Momentum is a fickle thing. Andy Stanley talked about it last week @ Catalyst. When you have it things seem easier. When you don't it can go south in a hurry. Our church has been on the other side of momentum for some time now. But now we have "new" leadership. This brings excitement. We have only a short window to capitalize on the big MO! Momentum can swing in all directions.
Where does the Holy Spirit figure into this? I believe we must pray that God will use His Momentum (The Holy Spirit) to change our church, our community and our own hearts!
I am amazed at how communication breaks down. I make a living communicating. Sometimes it is in the written word, sometimes spoken word, sometimes with multimedia and music. I can even do the non-verbal. By the time I get home from work I've used all of my words but Cassandra still has 10,000 left to use. (HA!)
Last night I was messing with Greg (storm) and made a post similar to Angelas (DIVA). She said she needed to ask him something when she got to the attik and for him to remind her. I was trying to be funny so I wrote on his tagboard that I had something important to tell him but I forgot it. I was trying to be funny with Greg and Angela. The funny thing is Greg called me to see what I needed to tell him. Sarcasm, anger, love, or any other emotion doesn't come through all of the time in written form.
When we started the Bridge Church our first mailer had a top ten list of why people should come to our church. There were many reasons but the # 1 reason was "FREE STARBUCKS COFFEE." I had one lady call me and ask why God wasn't first, and I said it was a joke. Obviously, it wasn't a joke to her. Now, looking back on it, I'm sorry I offended her. I still would do it again, but I would be more sensitive to her feelings. Jason had even better ads but he can share about those on his blog. I couldn't do them justice! Ha!! (do you feel the humor?)
I think we all have our own filters. This doesn't mean one's is better than another's. We see things through our own life experiences. Some are more sensitive than others. This is both good and bad. Some have no sensitivity. That can be good and bad also.
All this got me to thinking that I need to be more sensitive to others feelings. I need to think about how they might look at what I am saying. I shouldn't try to hurt or make someone mad if I can prevent it. Just because I feel a certain way doesn't mean I have to take it out on others just so I can be seen as real! Of course when we are happy it is good to let that ooze out of us!
Our staff is reading Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald Whitney. Whitney tells a story when Christianity was under attack from the Roman empire. Aristides was a Greek Philosopher who became a Christian and was called to make a defense before Antoninus Pius. Here is part of his defense: "They (Christians) love one another. The widow's needs are not ignored, and they rescue the orphan from the person who does him violence. He who has gives to him who has not, ungrudgingly and without boasting."
I wonder how often we do this today. I am guilty!!!!!! Our traditional churches are so busy, Preaching the Word that we have no time to meet the physical needs of people. The Gospel is very, very, very important and without it people will go to hell, but some won't listen if we don't meet their physical needs. The early church understood this. Acts 4:33-34 says that the early Christians sold all they had to meet the needs of others. James 2:15-16 warns us against giving "verbal peace" to someone without meeting their physical needs. Donald Whitney warns, "Evangelism that ignores hollow-eyed hunger or other crying needs of the ones being evangelized is a physical contradition to the spiritual message." I fear that we as church leaders have created a monster that makes our people so busy they can't truly minister to the needs of people. There are things going on at the "church building" every night of the week. We build "Family Life Centers" to "protect" our families from the evil in the health clubs. God forbid we see a beautiful woman in spandex! (or a man in a speedo) Oh, the horror! We schedule "revivals!" Only God can bring revival and if we practiced II Chronicles 7:14 we might see it.
We give money to missions and that is great, but how many actually have been on a missions trip? Jesus met people's spiritual needs but he also met many of their temporal needs. I am so concerned about the busyness of the church. Joe Kennedy mentioned some of my concerns in his post the Art of being busy. Great job Joe! When I was on staff @ Peachtree Corners Baptist, I was so busy I didn't even know my neighbors. I finally connected with a guy down the street only after he was convicted of selling drugs. What might have happened if I met him earlier? Then this week the father of one the kids Hope plays with told Cassandra that he and his wife were getting a divorce. He is really struggling. Late last night after Jacob's football practice I went down and reached out to him. Crap, I should have done this earlier but I feel I'm always away from my family doing "church business." This to me is a sin!!!!! The church needs to cut out all of our programs and junk so we can have "seeker or non-christian" friends. Donald Miller talked about this last week at Catalyst. I'm just being real, I am struggling with this. I want to be around more lost people. I want to make a difference in their lives. Get me out of the church! Get me away from only Christians! I want to meet needs. I want to be their friend. Just my rambling thoughts!
It is no wonder why certain people make it far in life. Some people just know how to connect with people. Some wonder why and get jealous of their fame and say they got lucky. I don't believe that is true. I think the people who are successful, I mean really successful know how to connect with people. Years ago, I attended the Purpose Driven Church Conference @ Saddleback Church in Southern California. I wrote Rick Warren a thank you note for the conference and told him I was starting a church. I never expected what I got in the mail box a week later, a hand written note from Rick Warren telling me to go for it! Rick Warren, the pastor of a church that has over 15,000 people attend every weekend and has written best selling books took time to write me a note of encouragement.
I also met Congressmen Bob Barr @ Starbucks in Town Lake, GA one morning and told him I was planting a new church. 2 days later I got a post card from him thanking me for introducing myself to him. A man who has thousands of people in his district took time to write me. Last year Roger Breland (formerly of TRUTH) came to our church. I knew him from a past church. I walked up and welcomed him and just told him how glad I was to see him. 3 days later he wrote me a note thanking me for my hospitality.
Yesterday I wrote an email to Wayne Cordeiro who has written dozens of books. He has had a tremendous impact on me thru his books and by watching his webcasts. I wrote to thank him for allowing God to speak to me and challenge me. He actually wrote me back today! Unbelievable! That may not sound like much to you, but to me it makes me understand why these people are so successful. They connect with people! They don't just write and speak about connecting with people, they LIVE IT!
I was talking to Jason Burns about this and he gave me some great ideas of how he connects. I won't write them now because I want to use them here. But I will give Jason all the credit. A few years ago I wrote every SS teacher a personal not at my church in NC thanking them for teaching in our church. There was no reason for it, just thanks. One older gentleman said he had been teaching over 40 years and no one had ever thanked him. How sad!
I'm not perfect by any means, but I pray I continue to connect with people. I have learned so much watching my parents, Cassandra and the example of dynamic leaders connect and really live it! I hope to keep the legacy going!
Today was a bonus day! I walked into Starbucks (what's new right;)) Anyway, they asked me if I wanted a Vente Mocha for free, I thought bonus! I did my Bible Study and read from Don Miller's book Through Painted Deserts and then wanted a refill of coffee before I left. I got another free Vente coffee and Christy asked if I wanted a free Frapachino, bonus! Last night some friends gave me a $25 gift card to Starbucks, bonus. I have just been given so much that I don't deserve.
It got me to thinking about God's Grace. Grace is getting something we don't deserve. I don't deserve anything good. I am a sinner. I sin more than I like to admit. I envy, lust, covet, have evil thoughts, etc... I wish it weren't true but it is. But God who is rich in mercy loves me anyway. Bill Hybels talked about that last week at Catalyst. Grace has hit me like a ton of bricks over the last year. I lived under no grace for years. I believe it made me cold and I looked at everything in black and white. But God's grace changed that. A New Kind of Christian by Brian McClaren was a book that I could relate to. In fact, I could have written it. My church growing up showed no grace. We were right and the rest of the world was wrong. When I went to Samford I was warned about "liberals." I was involved in Campus Outreach that was very legalistic. I joined a church in Huntsville and went on staff with that pastor in Atlanta that showed no grace. I think I have been going thru "detox" when it comes to God's Grace. His grace is enough! His Grace amazes me. His Grace is the fuel that keeps me going. I am grateful for a wife that has shown grace to others. I watch her and am amazed at her love. I thank God for that. I have learned to be more graceful.
Year ago I would have thought I was a "liberal" to feel the way I do now. But I would rather err on the side of Grace. His Grace is enough!
What is it that Madison Ave. has learned that the church has not? That people are looking for new, improved and improving. Andy Stanley shared at Catalyst that every product and company that wants to keep their market share and continue to grow must keep changing. Andy had a table full of products that all of us know, Clorox, Scott tissue, windex, huggies, etc.... Each one had a label that said new or new improved. The point is that Madison Ave. realizes that people want new stuff. They also want their old products to imporve and keep improving. It makes you feel like they are improving for you.
Church should be like that. So many churches say "we haven't done it that way before." We need new churches. Existing churches should be starting them and supporting them. The Bridge Church that we started would still be going had we gotten support. Existing churches even the best of them need to improve and keep improving. FBTC is a prime example of a great church that didn't improve and now the church that I live near (nameless) is the "NEW" church and they are growing. They have even changed some of their methods recently. They are improving.
It is sad that the business world understands more of how to reach people than the church. They have nothing of substance to offer the world but they reach people thru ads and stuff. The media has done a great job also. They move people thru their videos and music. Some churches are catching up but most of us are stuck in the 1970's or earlier!
Contemporary ministry is not about singing Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Hillsong. That may be part of it. But Contemporary ministry involves meeting today's generation where they are and finding ways to connect with them. Do we continue Sunday Night church just because we have always done it? I would rather free up the "church" to be the "church." Why not have small group bible studies in homes? Why not free your people up to know and minister to their neighbors? Why not encourage the "church" to go to health clubs, civic clubs, school clubs and so on rather than knocking on doors for visitation? Why not build relationships with people different than ourselves?
I have a dream of a church that truly ministers to people. I dream of a church that is not about the pastor, deacons or anyone else in the church. I dream of a church that truly wants to reach their community for Christ. I dream of a church that takes risks! I dream of a church that sees lives changed. This is ugly sometimes because it brings in people that scare us! But that is my dream. I guy can have a dream can't he!????!!!??
The tropical weather just follows me! I got to ATL and saw that TS Tammy was going to hit us. It rained the whole time I was there and on the way back. Catalyst was awesome. I know I said it but I am still processing what I've learned. Bill Hybels who is the pastor of Willowcreek in Chicago admitted that he needed 4 years of counseling a few years back. None us is amune from needing help. We live in a very, very, very dysfunctional world. Our only hope is the love of Jesus. We as followers of Christ need to be sensitive of other people's issues and our own. We all have baggage and junk in our lives that need to be unpacked. We shouldn't wear our emotions on our sleeves every day because no one will want to be around us. However, we need confidants that we can talk to about our struggles. Thanks to Jason for being one of those people in my life. Well, I've got to go to Jacob's football game.
Wow! What an unbelievable conference! I sat at the end and didn't want to leave. I just got my t-shirt because we made the Guiness book of world records for the largest woopie cushion at one time moment! That was cool. I heard Erwin McManus this morning and he was how we need uniqueness in church and diversity. Bill Hybels talked about how we are one coin flip away from making a wrong decision. Andy Stanley talked about New, improved and improving! I will share more later. I have a long drive home. The traffic outside is bad, but I know I'm crazy but I love it. It means lost people in need of Jesus. God used this time to speak to me and it is hard to leave. I loved hanging out with Jason Burns. What a great friend he is. I can't wait to see my family but this was a challenging and draining conference. I have a headache trying to take it all in. I want to be a Catalyst! I want to be part of something bigger than me!
WOW! Catalyst is awesome. The worship music is 2nd to none. It rocked, it was worshipful, it moved me. Andy Stanley started off the morning talking about how when opportunity knows it is not necessarily from God. He used I Samuel 24 as an example. David could have killed Saul but he didn't because it was against the law to kill a king. Louis Giglio talked about what else, worship. He said we need to be consumed by worship not be consumers. Donald Miller was great. I love his books but didn't know what kind of speaker he would be. He said we as "Christians" need more non christian friends. John Maxwell talked about leadership and 4 phases of leadership in his life. It was awesome and I can't wait for tomorrow. Bill Hybels will be here and Andy will speak again.
I'm headed for the ATL @ 6:00 AM! I can't wait! I will miss my family. But I get to see Jason Burns tomorrow and at Catalyst. Then I will see my friends from PCBC. That will be nice but tough since Alan was let go last Friday. I'm staying across from the Mall of Georgia. I have mapped out all of my Starbucks stops. I know God will speak to me. I look forward to worshiping and learning. ATL here I come!
There are some things I just can't control. Weather, people, circumstances, etc.... I want to be part of something bigger than me. That means that I have to give up control. It is hard to do. We live in a society that lifts up people like Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Martha Stewart because they are "self-made" people. But God wants "God-shaped" people. I fight it, but it is what I truly want. Being shaped hurts. When I broke my leg years ago, the doctor had to move it around to put it back into shape. It hurt, but it was necessary. I think that is the way our relationship with God is. When He shapes us it hurts. He has to stretch us, move us, mold us and break us. Wow! But He has our best interest in mind. I want to be part of something that is beyond me. I want to see people changed because of God. Not something that I said or did. I want to win an entire city for Christ. Not just me, because that is impossible, but working with others who have the desire to be part of something beyond themselves. I want to see houses shake like they did in ACTS. I want to see fire happen in wet wood. I want to see a burning bush. I want to see hear God in a whisper. I want to see Jesus flow out of every part of my being. I want to love even when people kick me in the gut. I want to see Jesus in every person regardless of their background, dress, skin color, $$, etc... I am an optimist by nature. That has been tested of late. But I truly believe the world can get better. I know most Pre-tribulation people disagree, but if we have the power of Christ at our disposal, why can't the world get better. If not, why bother. I see God at work in other places. I can't wait to hear from God this week at Catalyst! I expect God to speak to me. I expect to be changed, moved and I will have to respond. I'm ready for something bigger than me!
I don't understand what is going on in the American Church! One of my good friends who I served on staff with for three years was let go Friday for no reason! I worked there, trust me, he is a great youth minister. He and his wife have 3 children and no income. Why do "christians" want to ruin people's lives? This guy was used by God during the "runaway bride" episode. It is awful. My prayer is for him and his family. Just when you think things are bad for you, you realize people have it worse.
I can't wait! I get to go to my favorite city Atlanta! I love the big city feel. I love the traffic. I love all of the diversity. It is home. I can't wait to go to Catalyst! It is the coolest conference. I will hear John Maxwell, Donald Miller, Andy Stanley and Louis Giglio! Wow! What a lineup. I'm expecting God to rock my socks off! After the last few weeks and esp. last night I need it. I just wish Cassandra could go. She is in a lot of pain thanks to people who think they are god's gift to leadership. I'm tired of keeping my mouth shut. Our leadership has hurt our family. My kids cry because they know we might have to move from our house. They are tired of moving! It is stressful. I'm tired of hearing about what we learn from this. It hurts! I'm tired of kids teasing my son about how their parents voted to reduce his father's salary. Are they trying to drive Jacob from church? This is horrible! I get more love from lost people at Starbucks! When will people stand up for what is right and stop being pushovers? I'm not afraid to speak the truth. The truth hurts! But it is the truth. Dysfunctional people don't want to hear the truth. I'm sorry!