Friday, August 31, 2007

Hilarious #2

Here's another we've got to use.

Hilarious #1

We've got to find a way to use this.

The problem

I stumbled upon a new blog today that needs to be read. Even though I know this to be true it really hits me between the eyes. You can check out the posts here, here, here, and here.

Click and read those posts and then come back.

Did you read them? If yes then read on, if not then READ THEM.

Ok...

In all honesty, I don't know what the future of The Point is going to be. It's been a tough past month losing 80% of our people. Those of us that are left need some healing. We need time to recover. We need God to renew our passion, confidence and vision (or at least I need these things). So with that in mind we're not jumping ahead. We're taking some time for healing. That's why we've got a stripped down gathering. That's why we're not doing small groups. That's why we're not doing marketing or trying to grow.

This stage could last a week or two months. I don't think we need to put a time frame on it.

But here's where all this goes back to the posts I wanted you to read. No matter what happens with The Point's future, I don't want us to be a church that just grows at the expense of other churches. I don't want us to be just the next cool church in town. I really want us to be about reaching people who are far away from God.

If you're a Christian, and want to be on that kind of a mission, then we want you on our team. We need you on our team. We need mission minded followers of Jesus who are in this for those who aren't in the family yet.

If you're just interested in the next cool place to be (not that we're all that cool... have you seen me?), or a place that caters to your needs then I could recommend some cool churches for you (you might have to drive), but don't waste my time or your time at The Point. And since I'm being honest... you might need to do a gut check, get your eyes off the person in the mirror and get on board with the mission of Jesus. It's pretty clear that the heart of our heavenly Father is tilted towards those who are on the outside more so than it is with those of us who are already in (click here for proof).

I've also got to say that I really have no idea how to do this. I suck at evangelism. I'm chicken. I don't have all the answers, but this post wasn't about answers. It's about the problem, and in order to get to the answers you've got to correctly address the problem first. So here it is.

The Eleventh

Today's a big day. Eleven years ago today Liz and I committed our lives to each other. I read this passage this morning and thought it was a great description of Liz. E-mail me and I'll tell you where you can send the Anniversary gifts :)

Liz, I love you. I am so honored and privileged to have you as my wife.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Faith


I'm almost finished reading A contrarian's guide to knowing God: Spirituality for the rest of us by Larry Osborne. This is a great read that will stretch your conventional thinking... in a good way.

I was so blown away by his chapter on Faith. I'll read that chapter again and again. I think we often confuse faith with wishful thinking or vague superstition, but his definition is great: Bottom line: God wants us to trust him--to trust him enough to do what he says, no matter how we feel or how certain we are that things will work out.

Faith really is all about trust: Trusting that God is who he says he is and that he'll do all that he promised to do. I love the part where he says it doesn't matter how we feel or how certain we are that things will work out.

Go buy the book. This may turn into a series some time in the future. We'll see.

O happy day


I'm pretty pumped. I just found out that Switchfoot is coming to the Bilo Center on November 3. It should be a great show with them and Relient K.

Add to this that Clemson football starts on Monday night and what more could you ask for?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Survival

I survived my first practice as coach of Nathan's soccer team. I thought my coaching tenure was going to be over before it began. I called the head of the Upward's league to find out about equipment and practice field and he told me that they were combining Nathan's team with another first/second grade team. He didn't mention anything about who was going to be the new coach of the combined team. I was beginning to get depressed. I was pumped and prepared to try out coaching and now the possibility seemed to be slipping away (I know that's dramatic, but I was feeling dramatic). Parents and kids started showing up, and I introduced myself to some of them. I met an assistant coach from the other team. He had a whistle and looked professional. I knew I was doomed when one of the parents from the other team said that they didn't have a head coach, so I felt partially hopeful. Then the league head showed up and told me that I was going to be the coach. RELIEF. SURVIVAL. I feel like a little kid who just got one of the coolest gifts in the world. Now on to season prep: Go Vikings!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First practice

Tonight's my first practice as coach of my son's soccer team. I'm a bit nervous. I've never coached before. Go Vikings!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Not to be left out



Since big brothers got to have their picture's posted I thought we'd better include Levi. In the second picture he's trying to grab the camera.

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Second first day



Today was Matthew's first day of school. Here are some pics to celebrate the occasion.

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Whose dream is it?

Last night at The Point we started a series on the life of Joseph. I love Joseph. No, not Jesus' earthly dad, but the Joseph found in Genesis 37 and following. He's one of my favorite characters in the Bible. I'm pretty pumped about spending a few weeks studying his life.

We started by looking at Genesis 37:1-11. In these verses we're introduced to a spoiled, cocky teenager who ends up being the recipient of a pretty profound dream sent by God.

At the end I asked a question, that in retrospect I wish I wouldn't have asked: What is one of your wildest dreams -- one that only God could bring about? It's not that the question is bad, but this morning, as I reflected on what we talked about, I realized something: Sometimes we mistake our dreams (what we want to see happen) with God's dreams for us. Do you see the distinction?

I know I'm guilty of substituting what God wants to happen with what I want to happen. There are times when my ambition and agenda gets in the way of God's ambition and agenda.

This is a dangerous trap, one that we need to avoid at all cost. God caused the dreams that he gave Joseph to come true. I don't think his life would have had the same ending had Joseph just had visions of grandeur. The source of his dream was God.

I think God has a dream for each of us. But let's be careful to make sure we're pursuing God's dream and not our own. Then, as the Scripture says, The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Just call me coach


That's right. You read the title correctly. You can now call me coach. I just found out yesterday at Nathan's "meet the team and coach" practice that his team didn't have a coach. Well, I volunteered, so now I'm coaching my first ever soccer team.

The cool thing about it is that Nathan is so excited to have me as his coach. I didn't know he would be so pumped. That makes me pumped.

Now if I can only figure out how to be a coach. Anybody out there have any suggestions?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Uninvited guest

Life's major trials seldom send a memo telling us they're on the way. Instead, like an uninvited guest, they just show up, leaving us no choice but to let them in.

I read that today from Larry Osborne's book A contrarian's guide to knowing God. It is so true.

He goes on to say that the best way to be prepared for those uninvited guests is to be connected in a community.

I'm excited about connecting with The Point folks this Sunday night. More excited than I've been in a while. We're changing up our format for Sunday nights for the time being. We're going to do dinner together at the B and then have a discussion-based Bible study (instead of a sermon). This week we're going to begin looking at the life of Joseph (from Genesis). Everything still begins at 6 PM. See you there.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hearing from God

I am by no means an expert on hearing from God. I do believe that God speaks through his Word. I also believe that he sometimes speaks to us through other people (though sometimes I think we mistakenly believe God is speaking through them because they are saying what we want to hear). But at the same time I think that hearing from God is a bit mystical and can't be objectively defined.

I think that God speaks to us through his Holy Spirit... or at least I think he wants to speak to us through his Holy Spirit if we are in a position to listen. Jesus talks about this. He says that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and remind us of things Jesus said (John 14).

Jesus also says that his sheep follow him because they recognize his voice (John 10).

I feel like I'm relearning how to hear from God. I know that so often I'm guilty of doing what seems right, sounds good, and appears to be from God without taking the time to actually hear from God. I don't do this on purpose, but I do fall into this trap.

You know how to tell you're in this trap? To use a cliched statement, you end up praying for God to bless your plans instead of praying for God to give you blessed plans. Another sign is that you end up being stressed and filled with pressure to figure everything out instead of resting in the sovereignty of God.

I guess I'm posting this to encourage you to listen to God. I can't explain how it all works, but He's talking. And he actually wants to talk to me (and you).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mixed emotions


Today is a big day for Nathan. It's the first day of first grade! I am so excited for him. He's such a great kid (all of my boys are great). It's a bit sad too, because of how he's growing up.

Speaking of growing up, Matthew is off on a week-long trip to Wildwood, NJ with his grandparents. It's his first trip by himself. I know he'll have a blast.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Harry Potter


Last night I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... all 759 pages of it. I've been reading about 2 chapters a night for the past month and now I'm a bit depressed. I'm not depressed because the book was a let down. I'm depressed because it was such a great book and now I'm done reading it.

Now, if you're one of those anti-Harry Potter people who say that the book's Satanic then I need to ask you a question: Have you read the books? I am continually amazed that people make all kinds of judgements about Harry Potter and they've never read a page. So in all kindness and love: Shut up and go read the books, then make the judgment. I think it is important, vitally important, to view culture (books, movies, TV, internet) through the filter and lens of Scripture, but you can't do that from an outside, uninformed position. When we do that (and we Christians are good at doing that) we look like close-minded, ignorant idiots instead of informed and educated critics. So read the book!

There are so many great themes lived out in the book: Loyalty, responsibility, obedience, sacrifice, friendship, love and family. I think what stood out to me the most was that Harry was willing to do the right thing, regardless of the personal cost. He was willing to sacrifice himself to do what was right for the good of many. Sounds strangely similar to another story that has become central to my life.

I won't share how the story ended, but I will say that the ending is happy and the loose ends are tied up. I love stories that end on a happy note and tie up all the loose ends.

So with that in mind, if you haven't started yet, get to reading and enjoy entering the world of the boy who lived.

Great post you need to read

I love Shawn's post on what makes our [his] church different. That's what I'd like to see and be a part of here in Spartanburg.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Two must reads



I read two books last Friday that I've been meaning to write about. First off let me say that I'm a slow reader, but these books were both short and easy to read, but at the same time filled with some incredible insights.

First, Andy's book on Making Vision Stick was an amazingly practical look at communicating vision so that it is heard and known. I especially was challenged by what he said about your vision statement being short and memorable. (The Point's: To create a church that unchurched people will love to attend). I'll read this book again many times.

Second, I read John's book, You have what it takes. It is written to fathers (which I am ) and gives the number one question that our sons and daughters are asking. Since I have three boys I focused on what my son's need to know from me: Do I have what it takes? For those of you with girls (I'll pray for you) he says they're asking: Am I beautiful? It's the dad's job to communicate a resounding yes to each of these questions in multiple and creative ways. This is one of the most practical parenting books I've ever read. If you're a dad you need to order it today. It's only $2.99.

Apartment list

Like I posted about yesterday, we're going to be putting door hangers out in 14 apartment complexes over the next few weeks. Here are the places we're targeting. Pray for the people who live in these complexes. Pray for God to work in their hearts and draw them to himself. Pray for God to grant us favor and pour his Spirit on us.

College Point
North Town
The Bluffs
Campus Edge
Riverwind
Arbor Glenn
Autumn Park
Country Club
Hunt Club
Timber Creek
Park Place
Meadowgreen
Timbers
Corners

Monday, August 13, 2007

We're not just starting a church...

I read something from Dave's blog today that got me thinking about The Point.
  • We're not just starting a new church in Spartanburg. We are doing is creating a relevant church that non-religious, irreligious, unchurched people will love to attend.
  • We're not just starting a church. We're partnering with the Holy Spirit to see people's lives transformed.
  • We're not just starting a church. We're participating in a movement that was begun thousands of years ago to connect disconnected people to God.
  • We're not just starting a church. We're joining in on the greatest mission ever!
The Church is the hope of the world. What a privilege and honor it is to be invited into God's work in the world.

Big week

This is a big week for The Point. This Saturday we're going to be putting out door hangers on a bunch of apartment doors and then on Sunday we're going to be handing out water and sodas to USC Upstate students who are moving on campus.

PLEASE PRAY! I read this passage this morning and it's going to be my prayer this week. Please join me in praying. Pray that our servant evangelism and marketing will fall on fertile soil. Pray that hearts will be open and responsive to our invitations. Pray that apartment management will be open to us putting out door hangers. Pray that God will bring us the right people as a result of what we're doing.

Instead of gathering to worship last night we went to a number of these apartment complexes and the dorms at USC Upstate and prayed for the students and people living there. Will you join us in praying? Later this week I'm going to send out the names of the apartment complexes we'll be targeting so that you can pray more specifically for the people we're contacting.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wanting...

I think if we're honest we all struggle with what I'm about to share.

My life's journey with God is usually more characterized by what I need or want from God instead of just needing or wanting God. Does that make sense? Here's what I mean: Lately, I find myself praying for things that would benefit and grow The Point... things like a band, the right leaders, more people, wisdom to lead, help with moving forward, favor with the community we're trying to impact. None of those things are bad. They are all good, and honestly, I think we need them all, but there's a difference between praying for those things and praying to know God better.

So, I don't know how long it will last (I get distracted so easily), but I'm praying that I will come to know God more. I'm praying for a greater spiritual hunger for God.

I read this quote from Margaret Feinberg's new book, Organic God: I want to discover God again, anew, in a fresh way. I want my love for him to come alive again so taht my heart dances at the very thought of him. I want a real relationship with him -- a relationship that isn't altered by perfumes, additive, chemicals or artificial flavors that promis to make it sweeter, sourer, or tastier than it really is. I want to know a God who in all his fullness would allow me to know him. I want a relationship that is real, authentic, and life-giving even when it hurts. I want to know God stripped of as many false perceptions as possible. Such a journey risks exposure, honesty, and even pain, but I'm hungry and desperate enough to go there. I want to know the Organic God.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Half-hearted work

I read Craig's post this morning and it got me thinking.

If there's one thing that the Kingdom, or The Point, or I don't need it's half-hearted work.

Now let me clarify... I know that some people will have more time to do more work than others, but the amount of work or service is not important. The key is to take care of your responsibility with all of your heart. Whatever you're committed to, do it to the best of your ability, do it with passion, do it as if you were doing it for Jesus.

I know I'm thinking in terms of your service within a local church, but this applies to every area of life: Work, relationships, finances, your physical life and your relationship with God. Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, work at it with all of your heart as if you were working for the Lord.

The Potter

No, I'm not posting about the "Harry Potter" (even though I might when I finish the last book), I'm posting about how God is the potter and we are the clay. I love that imagery.

This morning I read this out of Jeremiah. It's a great reminder about who God is and who we are. I think we need to be reminded of this often because we often forget.

So many times we try and shape and form ourselves instead of resting in the arms of and submitting to the will of the potter God. God has a plan for us to be used for his purposes. But, so often, our grandiose plans for how we can best benefit God get in the way of his amazing plans for us.

Today, may you submit to the shaping of the potter God.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Starting over

That's really what I feel like I'm doing... Starting Over. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's tough. How do you restart what's been started? I would appreciate your prayers as we seek God about moving forward with what he's called us to do. Pray for wisdom and guidance. Pray for protection. Pray for God's favor.

I read this commentary on Jeremiah this morning: Calling one to difficult service may actually be God's way of honoring his servant's strength of character. I don't know if this is true, but it is encouraging. At the same time, I can think of other ways I'd like to be honored!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

For your benefit

As most of you know, I'm not only a blogger, but part of my learning and daily reading comes from the blogs of some other guys. There are a few that have really spoken to me this week and I wanted to share them with you.
  • Loved what Jay had to say here.
  • Ben had two great posts here and here.
  • Jonathan's quote from Piper is good stuff here.

The Point: Defined

Last night I shared about The Point's vision and mission. Below is a bullet point snapshot of who we are going to be as a church.

Vision and Mission – Our vision is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

Strategy (How we are going to accomplish our mission) - By creating relevant environments where people are encouraged, equipped and empowered to pursue intimacy with God, community with insiders and influence with outsiders.

Three environments:

· Gathering: A safe and relevant environment where people can explore and discover what following Jesus is all about. Our word for this is Connect.

· Small groups: I believe life change happens in the context of small groups that pray, study Scripture and do life together. Our word for this is Grow.

· Service – My passion is that we are a church of people who serve in the church (to help the church be what it needs to be) and in the community (so that Spartanburg is a better place to live). Our word for this is Serve.

The day after

I haven't really blogged much about our church plant in a while. In all honesty it's been a rough couple of months. Well, last night we had a third and final town hall meeting with some of the influencers in our church where I re-shared the vision and mission and direction of The Point (which I will post in a later blog). At the end of the night we had some great people, some great servants, make the decision that The Point is not where they need to be.

This isn't a bad thing. God is in control, and Jesus has promised that he will build his church. Sometimes people need to leave, and as much as I want The Point to be a place where people can safely explore what following Jesus is all about, I also want us to be a place where people can follow God safely, even if that's to another church. I never want people to feel guilty for following God.

Following the meeting I was overwhelmed with this question: What now, God? The question wasn't asked out of discouragement or despair, but out of an anticipation and desire to move forward with what God has called and invited us to do. And then this morning I read this out of Philippians 4: I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength, and My God will meet all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

I don't think it was an accident that this passage was a part of my Bible reading for today. God can be trusted. He will do all that he's promised to do. I think there are exciting days ahead for The Point. I don't think we're here by accident. I think God has a plan and purpose for us. Today I'm motivated by another verse from Philippians: Forgetting what is behind, and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal....

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

That's quotable


I'm re-reading Good to Great by Jim Collins. It really is an amazing book. This quote is worth posting, especially in light of where we are as a church plant: If people join the bus primarily because of where it is going, what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You've got a problem. But if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it's much easier to change direction: "Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me...."

I think this speaks to the church's need to love and respect one another as family.

He goes on to say this: The right people don't need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.

That's good stuff.