Friday, March 30, 2007

Matthew 7

My favorite section of the Bible is Jesus' sermon on the mount. I don't know why, but I'm continually drawn back to this amazing monologue over and over and over again. It's so rich and deep and unattainable and mysterious.

Well, Mitch and Will and I are reading through the Sermon on the Mount and this week we're reading Matt. 7. This chapter always leaves me a bit uncomfortable. There's the part about the speck in other's eyes and the logs in my eyes (Which leads me to ask which logs are in my eyes that I don't know about?). You've got the section about how you can only enter God's Kingdom through the narrow gate (I know Jesus is the only way to the Father, but you've got to admit that what Jesus says invokes more questions than provides answers.). Then there's the verses that talk about what a true disciple is (it's an obedience thing...read it...it's good stuff).

But I am continually blown away by verse 29. It says that Jesus taught as one who had real authority. There is real authority in God's word. In it we get a glimpse into the thoughts of God and the ways of God (which we'll be talking about on Sunday). There is just such value in spending time reading, thinking about and contemplating the Bible. What have you read today? You don't have to believe it or agree with it... just read it.

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New music

I stumbled across this new song from Kristen Stanfill this AM. I think it would rock live. Maybe we'll hear it at The Point one day soon.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Interviewed

Today I got interviewed today by Kim at the Spartanburg Herald Journal. I really had a blast talking about The Point, why we do what we do, why I'm the way I am, and who we're trying to be as a church. I'm not sure when the article is going to go live, but it sure was fun being interviewed. Thanks to all you who prayed for my interview.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

GREAT NEWS!!!

I can't tell you how excited I am. Many of you know that part of The Point's DNA is what's called Servant Evangelism. We just like to give stuff away for free to let people know that God loves them and is for them.

Well, I just got off the phone with Darryl who works for the city of Spartanburg and we are getting a booth at Spring Fling where we can give away gum, candy, balloons and smiles. We're also going to be providing volunteers to help them with what they are doing like we did at Shamrocks on the Square. This is a great open door for us to show Jesus and be the church to a lot of people in a short amount of time.

Plus next week Music on Main starts. That means that we get to have a team downtown each Thursday night giving away mints, gum and candy to people to let them know that God loves them and is for them.

Stay tooned for more details. Exciting things are a-foot!

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We're up to two

Nathan and I went to the dentist yesterday and we found out that Nathan has not only one loose tooth, but two. I don't know why, but this is really exciting for me as a dad. He's going to have a big gap at the bottom of his mouth when those two suckers fall out. I love watching my kids grow up.

Speaking of kids growing up, not that you care, but it's another thing that I think is really cool...Levi, my 5 month old, is devouring baby food. Liz makes most of it herself, but the guy is a real pig compared to Matthew and Nathan. He really seems to be enjoying eating.

And not to leave Matthew out...on the way home from our field trip on Sunday Nathan and Levi fell asleep, but Matthew stayed awake and talked to himself or hummed the theme song to Star Wars the whole way home. It was great watching him in the rear-view mirror. He is so cute!

Let's force it

I don't know if you're like me, but when things don't seem to go the way I think they should I try and force stuff. If a part doesn't fit like I think it should I force it into place. I must admit, I'm a forcer, but when I force stuff things usually don't turn out as well as I would like for them to turn out either. Maybe you've been there.

Kevin read this passage this morning at our prayer time (which all guys are invited to @ 6 AM @ Denny's on 290). In essence I feel like God is saying, "Don't force it. Trust in me and depend on my Spirit."

I feel like I've got to force stuff at The Point, or that I've got to make things happen. And while I do have work to do and a part to play it is really God who does the work. I need to remember that. You need to remember that. We need to pray for that.

Also, verse 10 has always been an encouragement to me. May it be for you too.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Thinking

Read three posts today that got me thinking. You can check them out here, here and here.

B.I.T.S. principle funny


I showed this picture last night. B.I.T.S. stands for Butts in the Seat. I rolled when I saw this. It got me thinking...which of my unchurched friends butts and which of your unchurched friends butts are you working to get in a seat for Easter?

Some gardening

I spent some time this morning reading through the book of Acts and the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation just focusing on the church. I encourage all of you to take that little reading journey. But there was something that jumped out at me as I read over the church planting adventures in Acts.

When Paul would go into a city he would start meeting with and talking with people. He planted seeds and then he would water those seeds. Right after Pentecost Peter preached a sermon (planted a seed) and then 3000 people were saved in one day. All the apostles did, all Paul did was plant seed and water.

That's really all I know to do too. I can't make something grow. I can just do what I can to plant seeds, to water seeds, to invest in relationships with the unchurched, to invite unchurched. God has to do the growing.

I forget that. I feel as if I need to force stuff, but the growing is God's responsibility. I don't know why he allows some things to grow faster than others. Why does the green bean plant that my kids planted a few weeks ago grow faster than an oak tree? Why does one church plant shoot to over 1000 in a year and another struggle to make it to 35 folks?

I don't have answers, but I do know what I'm supposed to do: Plant and water. Anybody interested in doing some gardening in Spartanburg?

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Great quote

I came across this great quote today from Tim Keller that I think needs to be read. Enjoy.

"If you speak and discourse as if your whole neighborhood is present eventually more and more of your neighborhood will find their way in or be invited. Why? Most Christians, even when they are very edified in church, know intuitively that their non-Christian friends would not appreciate the service. What you want is for a Christian to come to your church and say, "Oh! I wish my non-Christian friend could see (or hear) this!" If this is forgotten, soon even a growing church will be filled with Christians who commute in from various towns and communities far and wide rather than filling up with Christians and seekers from your church's immediate neighborhood." ~ Tim Keller

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Field Trip 3

This Sunday we're headed to Element Church for our field trip. Meet at the old Krispy Kreme parking lot at 8:15. Let's explore together what it means to do Church @ the Movies.

The church is the missionary

I read a great post by David this morning about the church being the missionary and it got me thinking. Most of you have heard me say that the church doesn't exist for us. If we are Christ followers then we are the church and we exist for the world.

What that means is that The Point is a
missionary to Spartanburg. God has planted us here to connect disconnected people to God. If you are a part of The Point then God has called you to join with us to do whatever it takes to connect disconnected people with God.

That's why we are a church for people who aren't into church. That's why we are trying to create irresistible environments for kids and adults on Sunday so that they can come to know the God who made them. That's why we are going to give out free gum and candy during Music on Main every Thursday from April to September. That's why we're taking field trips to learn what it takes to do Church @ the Movies. That's why you need to invite everyone you can to our Easter Gathering (send them this link).

Our church is a missionary. You are a missionary. Let's see Spartanburg as our target area. Let's invest in relationships with people who are far away from God. Let's invite those people to a Sunday gathering. We are here for such a time as this. Let's do whatever it takes. See you Sunday.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sunago, here I come

I'm pretty pumped about speaking at Sunago tomorrow night. I think fun times will be had by all. And yes, the rumor is true. I will be talking about sex, and the path to intimacy. If you're a college student in Spartanburg then you want to be there. Thanks to Tracy for the speaking invitation.

I finished the Sunago talk as well as Sunday's sermon this morning. This Sunday we'll be following up what I shared on Sunday by discussing How to Discover God's Will. It's some great, potentially life-shaping info that I'll be sharing. You'll want to bring a friend.

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Trouble reading

I feel like I've been having some trouble reading lately. I seem to go through spurts, but the past few weeks it's been more of a time issue. I am so thankful for the blogging world which gives me multiple insights into multiple leader's lives and churches and ideas. They keep my brain working when I have trouble reading.

The most Exciting part of my day

Yesterday was a day filled with meetings. I met with a group of guys for prayer at 6 AM. Met, over the phone, with my coach. Met with the band. Met with Tracy and Robert to finalize plans for speaking at Sunago. Met with the Spartanburg Baptist Network to update them on The Point. And finally, I met with our small group last night.

Well, after I got home from meeting with the Spartanburg Baptist Network folks Nathan met me in the garage, and with excitement on his face said he had something to tell me. He then said, "I've got a loose tooth." I can't explain how excited I was. I don't know why but this was an extremely cool moment for the two of us. It's his first loose tooth. Good times!

On top of that my brother got me tickets to see the Clemson/Syracuse NIT game tonight. The paper said that the first 1000 kids under 12 that show up get in free, so my brother, Nathan, Matthew and I get to go to the game tonight. Sweet! I really hope we win.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sales-people

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not that fond of people coming to my house trying to sell stuff. Well, today this pest control guy came advertising his bug killing business. Liz answered the door. I was up in my office working. She took his information, but before he left he asked, "What's the deal with the www.theproblemwithgod.com bumper stickers. Liz told him to go to the web site and find out. He wanted more, but she kept him in suspense by telling him to go to the web site. I ran out a postcard with the web site on it just so that he wouldn't forget. We wanted him to check out the web site.

I'll say the same to you. Beginning Easter Sunday we're starting a new series titled The Problem with God. If you've got unchurched friends in Spartanburg then they need to be at The Point on Easter. It's going to be a fun 5 week series.

Do whatever you can to get the word out. E-mail the link to your friends. Give a postcard to the pest control guy when he comes to your door.

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Sunday night reflections 3-18-07

Last night I warned everyone before I spoke that I was about to vomit on them some things that God has been teaching me lately. Honestly, the sermon was mainly therapeutic for me. I wasn't even sure it would make sense to anyone. I am blown away by the number of positive comments people have been sending my way. It's pretty humbling and encouraging to know that God spoke to some people through me.

It's funny, because yesterday was a tough day for me. In fact, the past two months have been excruciating at times. I honestly wanted to stay home and say to @#$% with everything, but God is faithful. He got Liz and me into this and he's going to see us through it (I think). That's easier said than done.

I really appreciate all those on our team who are helping carry the load. Mitch and Jimmy did a phenomenal job leading worship. Josh did great running the video stuff for the first time. JJ did an awesome job with setting up an appealing environment. Ben and Josh took over setup of the screen and projector for the first time by themselves. Chris, as always, stepped in to help out wherever he was needed. The list could go on, but I want all of you to know that I think you're awesome. I appreciate you and there's no way I could do this without you.

I'll end this by asking you to pray for me, Liz and our boys. I feel especially needy this AM for God to intervene in our family.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Fun in the Sun

Today was rainy, but tomorrow should be beautiful for Shamrocks on the Square. If you're volunteering then show up at the volunteer tent at the appropriate time for your session: 10 for the 1st session, 10-2; 2 for the 2nd session, 2-6.

I am pumped about The Point being able to contribute to what the city of Spartanburg is doing. Part of our vision is making Spartanburg a better place to live and we get to do that tomorrow by serving at Shamrocks on the Square.

I've got to share a quick story about my outing to the mall to develop relationships with some unchurched folks. The goal is to hand out free candy bars to mall employees and in doing so to develop some relationships and let people know God loves them. If you read this blog then you know that when Mitch went with me two weeks ago someone called him my son so I dyed my hair and changed my style. Well...today Josh decided to risk going with me. The first store we went in was Jarman (don't you just love that name? It reminds me of bad Christian music. If you don't know what I'm talking about then that is a good thing!). The guy who works there saw me and said, "You're back again!"

I wasn't able to go to the mall last week because of car trouble (I'm still taking donations), but this guy remembered that two weeks ago I brought him a free candy bar. I can't wait to see how God is going to use a Hershey bar and some time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Unleash - The Review

Got to go to New Spring's first ever leadership conference today. It was great having Chris, Mitch and Josh go with me. I thought I'd pass on some of what stuck out to me.

  • The church can be a very confusing place to outsiders. All churches have unspoken (and spoken) rules that are confusing.
  • The church needs to have creative environments.
  • Most visitors make up their mind in the first fifteen minutes after arriving if they'll return or not. That's why parking and greeting are so important.
  • Every week is someone's first week.
  • We need to offer our BEST every Sunday. Why won't we settle for second rate work at our jobs, but we're satisfied with giving God our minimum efforts and second rate work.
  • The church needs to look beyond itself. We've got to decide who we want in our church. We want sinners!
  • When hiring use the 3 C's as a guideline: Character, Competence and Chemistry. Staff according to your vision, not according to what others want.
  • Lessons from Moses on leading a growing church.
  • Moses simply listened and obeyed.
  • Leadership is as easy as listening to God.
  • Time with God is the most important thing (especially for Pastors).
  • Moses did not compromise the vision.
  • Moses didn't try and do it all.
  • God gives the pastor the vision and a team implements the vision.
  • Moses attempted the impossible.
  • If it's a God sized vision then it's will be impossible.

You can also read Jay's comments and Tony's here and here. My only disappointment was that I ate the catered lunch with the senior pastors instead of the BBQ with my group. I'd do the BBQ if I could do it over again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cluster of learning and community

Like I’ve posted earlier, I’ve had the honor of hanging out with some great guys who’ve been there, done that, learned a lot, are continuing to learn, and who are real. It’s been a privilege to soak up so much stuff from them. Here are some things that have resonated with my soul.

  • What God wants to do in us is more important than what we want God to do through us. Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this (I doubt it), but in my quest to do for God I miss being with God and letting God do his work in me. At times I feel as if this church planting journey is more about my sanctification than anything else and at times I feel bad for all of you that have to suffer the ramifications of my messy discipleship. At the same time, however, I don’t think any of you are a part of this church plant by accident, and God is working (or trying to work) in you just as much as he’s working in me. He wants all of us to be conformed into the image of his Son (Romans 8:30).
  • Obedience to God’s voice and commands opens the door for God to do the work he wants to do in us. I wonder how many times we miss out of what God wants to do because we refuse to submit to him. I can’t emphasize enough how important obedience is for Christ followers. We’re going to discuss this one day soon.
  • Obedience to God doesn’t mean everything will work out alright. We’ve believed the lie as American Christians that being a Christian and following Jesus will make us all shiny happy people, but that is rarely the case. But as I say often, God is more concerned with our character than with our comfort.
  • Make your life a quest to hear the voice of God so that you know what to do. That’s pretty self explanatory. It’s simple, but it’s hard as @#$%^!
  • I need to be more concerned with what God is doing in me than in building a church. Jesus is the one who promised to build his church. Why do I feel like I have to do God’s job? When I take over for God I miss what God wants to do in me (Do we see a theme here?). Intimacy with God must be my number one priority.
  • Wake up each day asking: What does God want to do in me today, instead of, What do I have to do today. I get so consumed with my to do list because there’s always so much to do, but I need to slow down. All that crap really isn’t that important compared to what God wants to do in me. The same is true of you. No matter what you have to get done today or tomorrow or next week, none of that is as important as what God wants to do in you. Don’t miss out on what God wants to do in your life. Do whatever you have to do to change the pace of your life.

These are just a few of the things that God’s been teaching me this week. We’re going to use this Sunday night to discuss some of these. We’re going to create some space for Jesus. We’re going to talk about the most important thing. Our time may be a bit uncomfortable, but I think it will be the best hour of your week. You don’t want to miss it.

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Lunch at the beach

I'm sitting in Atlanta Bread Co. in Myrtle Beach meeting with some great pastors/church planters from all over the state. I would blog more about the things I'm learning, but the place we're staying has no internet access. I'm only on for a minute during lunch. My chicken gumbo was pretty good.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Field Trip 2

This Sunday we're taking our second field trip as a church to go see how others do "church at the movies." This week we'll be headed to Mosaic in Charlotte. We're meeting at 8:15 in the parking lot of the old Krispy Kreme. Come learn with us.

Also: Don't forget to SPRING FORWARD. I don't want you to show up at 9:15 thinking it's 8:15 and miss out on the fun!

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

I am not vain

Well, maybe I am vain. Today Liz and I tried to dye the gray away from my hair (It had to be done after the incident with Mitch last week! You can read about it here.). We had to do it twice and I've still got gray on the sides! I also got a real haircut at a real salon and a real style. My boys say I look like a rock star. Don't worry, I'm not letting it go to my head. But I'm glad somebody thinks I look cool!

All this hair coloring and new hair cut stuff has got me thinking. Honestly, I do care about how I look...probably too much at times...but have you ever been around people that could care less (and it shows) about their appearance? I think taking care of how we look is a stewardship of what God has given us. I also believe that appearance effects influence.

This post really isn't all about me. I think it relates to the church as well (especially at The Point). The appearance of our ministry context, whether it's children, adults, preschool, small group, whatever, is of vital importance to the perceived relevance of what is happening within the ministry context.

In other words... Appearance Matters! The right appearance can help facilitate greater influence. The wrong appearance can turn people off before they even set a foot in the door. In an attempt to do whatever we can to get rid of any and all barriers that keep people away from God, let's go all out with the things we can control... appearance is way up at the top of that list.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Van trouble

I hate vehicle problems. I just hate it. Did I say I hated it.

Just got a call from the repair shop that this repair is going to set me back $1200. I just needed to complain and share my frustration. We just paid the last payment on our van last month and now this fun stuff!!!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Good Day

Today was a good day. It started off early with me driving to Easley to drop off my taxes. While there, I stopped by my previous church of employment to say hey. It was good to see some of the guys that I used to work with at Mt. Airy. Out of that I was inspired to ask them to send a mission team to do some servant evangelism with us. Well, on May 5th they are sending a team our way to help us out. I'm working to get The Point a booth at Spring Fling to hand out free stuff and I am so thankful to have a team from Mt. Airy helping us.

I was able to have lunch with Tim William, pastor of Roebuck Baptist Church. Tim and his church have been great supporters of The Point, both financially and with encouragement. Tim has agreed to be a part of a team that helps with leadership accountability for our church.

Since last week, I've been in contact with Darryl at the city of Spartanburg talking about partnering serving them at Shamrocks on the Square. I had lunch with Darryl last week and he's a great guy. I felt prompted to invite Darryl and his family to church. He said he'd like to take me up on the invitation.

Here's the deal. I've been praying all day for an opportunity to invite someone. I think God shows up when he knows we're serious. Will you join with me in being seriously intentional about inviting people? I believe that we are a part of the most important movement in the history of the world: The Church. It's a mission that requires all that we are. It's our opportunity to contribute to an eternal cause. Invest in some new relationships. Invite someone this Sunday.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

My new Son

Most of you know I have three boys: Nathan (6), Matthew (3), and Levi (4 months). Well, today I found out that I have another son: Mitch (21).

I am trying to do a better job at developing relationships with people who are far away from God, so I've committed to going to the mall one or two days a week to hand out candy bars to the employees and try and develop some relationships.

Today I invited Mitch to go with me. I don't know if he knew what he was getting into, but he risked it, and I am so thankful he went. The goal was to just go into a store and offer a free candy bar to employees and let them know God loves them.

At one of the kiosks in the middle of the mall Mitch offered the lady a candy bar. She wanted to know why we were giving it away free. We told her we were a new church and we just wanted to brighten her day and let her know that God loves her. She looked at me and said, "And you're the pastor." I said, "Yes." Then she looked at Mitch and said, "And you're his son."

We both cracked up. I am seriously thinking of dying my hair to get rid of the gray. It was a funny story that just had to be shared.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Potential

I have this thing about potential. I think each of us has potential for more than we’ve ever imagined. I think when God looks at us he sees potential. He always spoke to people’s potential rather than their performance. He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

When I think about our potential as a church I am blown away. Spartanburg has roughly 150,000 people who are unchurched. That means that in our county alone we have the potential to reach 150,000 people who are far away from God. Can you fathom that? What would that look like? What would it take for us to be a church of 150,000 people?

Now I know what some of you are thinking: That’s impossible. Read Ephesians 3:20 again. Some of you are thinking: I don’t want to be a part of a big church. Why? In Acts the church grew by 3000 in one day. Some scholars believe the church grew to over 20,000 people in the first few months following Pentecost. God is serious about connecting with disconnected people. So am I!

So here’s what I would like to ask you to do:

  1. Pray like crazy. Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Pray for God to move in people’s lives so that they are drawn to Jesus. Pray for God to show us as a church how to be ready for that kind of movement of God.
  2. Serve like crazy. We need you to step up and serve your rear ends off. I think being a part of the movement called the church is the best and most important thing you could ever do. If you don’t have a place to serve then keep harassing me until I give you something to do. Take the initiative. Serve. We need you to step up to help us create a fun, relevant, exciting children’s ministry. We need you to help park. We need you to help greet. We need you to help with set up and tear down. We need you to serve like crazy.
  3. Invite like crazy. Now let me clarify what I mean. Invite unchurched people. What I don’t want us to be is a church for people who already go to church. If you are on our team and you are already a Christian then please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am SO glad you are a part of The Point, but we need you to join with us to be the church. We need you to help us create a church for people who don’t like church. Many Christians believe the church exists for them, but Christians are the church and they exist for the world. We don’t need people who just want to be a part of the new cool church in town because they aren’t happy where they are. Those people are in. They are not our Heavenly Father’s priority. Invite unchurched people. They are all around you and me. Some of them live in your house. Some of them live next door. Easter is a great time to invite them. We’re starting theproblemwithgod.com series. I can’t wait!

I want you to reach the potential that God has created in you. I want us, as a church, to reach our potential.

Here’s another question that I was asked today: If The Point was a church of 200, what would be different about us? What would we need? I’ll be throwing that out in a couple of weeks for discussion. I would love to hear your ideas.

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