Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween thoughts

So I know that there are so many Christians who are anti-Halloween. We see this all the time. We segregate ourselves, in the name of protecting our kids, to our fellowship halls and church parking lots. We call what we do a "harvest festival" or "trunk or treat." We invite people to come to our church property and then we hand out candy in a safe (no witches or devil or Harry Potter costumes allowed) environment. These are all fine and good... to an extent.

But have you ever thought of Halloween as the only day of the year that you have people who may not be Christians knocking at your door. Have you ever thought that you could make Jesus look really good by handing out the best candy in your neighborhood?

I find it extremely sad that the only homes with the porch lights off are Christian's (because they are at church with their churched friends getting safe candy) and pedophiles (because the law forces them to keep their lights off). How can followers of Jesus be salt and light if they are not where salt and light are needed?

490 years ago today a former monk nailed a piece of paper to the cathedral doors at Wittenburg. He was promoting a revolution of beliefs. Rick Warren says that we've got the beliefs thing down, but now we need a revolution of deeds. Maybe the first place we could start would be to stay home and give out candy to people who need Jesus. Maybe we could get the reputation of being the house with the best candy in town. Maybe people would start knocking on our doors because Christians give out the best stuff on Halloween.

Just some thoughts that I think every year about this time.

One more thing... today is my brother's birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIAN!!! I was superman the day he was born. That's why he's so cool!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Clergy appreciation and John Piper

Bright and early this AM I went to a clergy appreciation breakfast that featured John Piper as the main speaker. I've heard Piper before and read a couple of his books, but that guy is smart. He repeated his most famous line: God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in him. It's good to be reminded how important it is to prioritize your love relationship with Jesus. For further reading on this you need to read Desiring God. It's tough to read but well worth the effort.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A freebie

Don't know if you're a coffee drinker or not, but I was just tipped off to this free deal. If you don't like coffee you can go ahead and register and then give me the free coffee as a gift! :) I might need more than one sample to help discern Dunkin Donuts quality as compared to Starbucks or Seattle's Best.

One more thing that has nothing to do with coffee. I read Mark's blog here where he said that church is a tag team sport. That is so true. Most people abdicate their responsibility to make disciples because they think that's the church's job, when really, church corporate should be a partner in the discipleship process.

How can the church partner? It can create safe environments where Christians can invite outsiders and seekers so that they can explore what being a follower of Jesus is all about.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Help Wanted

Just talked with an extremely nice and helpful professor at North Greenville about the possibility of getting some students to come help us. They have students who need a place to work to fill a practicum requirement. We have a place for people to work and help. It could be a match made in heaven... or just a great partnership made in the upstate.

Along those lines, if you're a college student looking to be a part of a revolution that's changing the world, then you need to be on our team. I don't want to say too much right now, but e-mail me and we'll talk.

Posts worth reading

Here are a few posts worth reading on a Friday:
  • Seth is right on with this post. Less means I read more.
  • Perry resonates with one of my values and strengths with this post.
  • Pat is so on with this post. My only problem with Pat is his blog is so much cooler looking than mine. I'm jealous!
  • Vince sums up what I want our church to be known for with this post.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What would you do?

Ok, so I've got a question. If you were given the responsibility and privilege to reach 12,000+ college students and 45,000+ young adults (single and married), what would you do? It's just a question I'm working through at the moment as I sit in Crossroads listening to Steve Fee.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pat let me read The Dip on the flight home from Phoenix yesterday (You can read Pat's blog here). I've heard a lot of great stuff about this book and was glad for the chance to read it. What was most beneficial to me was struggling with this question: What can I be the best in the world at? Or, what can our church plant be the best in our world at? I think I've got an answer to that question, but I'm not going to share that right now.

His point is that if you can't be the best in the world then you need to quit that and do what you can be the best in the world at. I loved this quote:
Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most. Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new. In both cases, it's about being the best in the world. Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other. (Pg. 4)
I decided I need to buy this book and reread it. It's filled with practical advice.

Thoughts on flying

Now I know that by posting this some homeland security person is going to read my blog and take my picture from some secret satellite and then post my picture at every airport security checkpoint or put me on someone's no-fly list, but can I just make a few comments about airport security? Let me first say that I am in favor of airport security. I believe that in the day and time we live that airport security is a good thing. At the same time I have to say that going through airport security is humiliating and left me feeling dirty and slightly abused. I know they don't mean to treat you like the Nazi's treated the Jews as they arrived at the concentration camps, but that's how it felt.

Having to take off shoes, belts, coats, while emptying pockets and exposing other "stuff" gave me the "I've been violated" feeling. And then there's that whole "No Liquid" policy, or "No more than 3 oz. of liquid and gel" policy. I know selling water for $1.50 is a crime, but come on? It it really that lethal to carry a bottle onto the plane? And what's so threatening about hair gel? I had a friend who had his gel confiscated (did the TSA folks need it?) and there was only a trace amount left in it's container. While at the same time, my FULL tube of gel, half full container of aftershave, full bottle of cough medicine and almost full container of saline solution was let through without a hitch. Is there a consistency problem? Why is gel a threat?

I think we should have rules and regulations. But I do have a problem with stupid rules. I also have a problem with stupid rules that are only enforced ocationally.

Ok, now that I've got that off of my chest, and know that I'll never be able to fly again, I feel better. But in all seriousness, I think we could use some commons sense and logic in the way we do airline security, so if you've got inroads anywhere....

So long, my next post will probably be from a prison cell.

Santa's on the plane

Yes, you read that correctly. Mr. and Mrs. Claus were both on my flight from Phoenix to Atlanta last night. It was amazing. This candid shot of the big man himself was taken by on Daniel's iPhone (man, I want one of those... so Santa... just in case you're wondering what to bring me...). Not only was Santa (complete with red bowler hat, north pole tie, red socks and read coat) on the plane, but he was waiting to use MY bathroom right after I was finished. I felt famous. How many people can say that Santa was waiting in line for them to finish peeing?

On another note, I met some great guys at Power Plant coordinator training in Phoenix. I'm really getting excited about our project here in the upstate next summer. But it is great to be home. After a delayed flight, I finally got home around 1 AM. I'll post more about the flight in a little while.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One thing after another

The past few days have been good busy. We partied down on Friday night celebrating Levi's and Grandpa's birthday. Yesterday was filled with soccer and Clemson's whopping victory over Central Michigan. I love seeing us score 70 points. Now if we can just do that again next week versus Maryland. It was Levi's first game. He had a blast. Right now I'm sitting at the Gaffney YMCA listening to Northpoint's band warm up and getting ready to speak. Too bad I don't have a voice. This should be interesting. I leave here and head straight for the airport to fly to Phoenix to go to Power Plant coordinator training. On top of all this travel I've got a cold and feel bad. Fun! Please pray for Liz since she'll be a single mom for three days. Oh... I'd better go. I've got to load my verses into their computer.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Speaking at Northpoint

Yes, you did read that correctly. I got a call yesterday inviting me to speak at Northpoint on Sunday. It's Northpoint in Gaffney, not Alpharetta :). Thanks Ryan for the invitation. It will be fun. On a side note, I'm open for speaking engagements, so if you know of anything please shoot me a line.

92 & 1

Today's a big day. We're celebrating my grandpa's 92nd birthday and Levi's 1st birthday. It's pretty wild for me to think about having a birthday party for the oldest and the youngest persons in my family. I think it's got to be a huge blessing for my grandpa. Happy Birthday Grandpa and Levi!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spiritual gifts

This morning I've been doing some self-evaluation. I think it's important to know yourself. We need to know our own strengths, gifts, weaknesses, etc. so that we can best pursue who God has created us to be.

Every so often I re-take a Spiritual gifts survey just to remind myself of my gifts and also to monitor any changes in my life. After listening to an old message from Bill Hybels I was motivated to re-survey myself. Hybels says that if we're not working in our top two gifts we'll end up frustrated, emotionally drained and less effective than we could be.

You can take a free survey here. Just in case your wondering, my top three are Teaching, Exhortation and Administration/Leadership. The cool thing about the above survey is that it gives you a pretty in depth description of the gifts you've got.

So do you know your gifts? What are you waiting on? Take the survey!

One more thing about this whole gift idea. Just because you know what your gifts are doesn't mean you're automatically at the top of your game in that gift. You've got to develop your gifts. Work them out. Find ways to put your giftedness to work. Improve! Another way to think of it is to play with the gift that God's given you.

Why can't we all just get along?

Just finished reading Peppermint-filled Pinatas. The good folks at Catalyst sent this book out. I had heard about it, but wasn't going to buy it, but when someone sends you something for free... well... it's like an invitation to read away. It's not the best book I've read, but Eric does do a good job of reminding us about the importance of real relationships with people who are different from us, people who are far away from God. The book in a sentence is: Love people and develop friendships with them.

The best part of the book, to me, was the following quote:
People who are not interested in something in general are rarely interested in a new version of it. It's like trying to get a non-coffee drinker like myself to try a Sumatran blend instead of the Colombian blend. I don't like any coffee. You could pour an entire bag of sugar and a gallon of milk into a grande cup, and I still won't like it. It's the same principle with starting a church. How can you get people excited about something that does not yet exist, especially if they don't like church to begin with?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Formula Free!

Boy, have I been inconsistent with blogging lately, but I have good news to share. We made the switch on Saturday from formula to whole milk for Levi. The transition went off without a hitch. He's such an easy baby. He turns one on Saturday and I think he's eaten more in his first year of life than his brothers have eaten in their combined 11 years of life. I'm so glad God gives us the gift of such diverse families. Things would get boring if all of my boys were the same. Their different personalities adds flavor (and chaos) to our lives.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I'm not normally an emotional person, but I started crying when I read this post from Vince. My passion to be a part of creating that kind of environment where unchurched people are so moved that they want all of their unchurched friends to experience it too. That doesn't mean I want us to be Forefront or Newspring or Northpoint. But I do want to be a part of creating that kind of church here in Spartanburg.

I ask for your prayers as we seek out staff and a launch team to help create a new kind of church in Spartanburg.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Coming to a city near you

Well, maybe not near you, but it is coming to a city near me. What's coming?

I just got word that Greenville/Spartanburg will be hosting Power Plant next summer. I had the privilege of being the Project Coordinator for the Myrtle Beach project this past summer and now I get to do it here at home. I'm pretty pumped about having a bunch of students invade the upstate to help plant churches.

Now we need groups to register. Pass along the word. It's going to be a great week.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Ministry of Management - Patrick Lencioni

I think it's partly because I've never had any management training and partly because Patrick was hilarious, but his talk on the ministry of management was probably the most practical talk during Catalyst.

He posed two questions: Is your job fulfilling or miserable? And, what do we need to have a job that's fulfilling?

The talk really came from his new book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. I want to get that book. The three signs are Anonymity, Irrelevance and Immeasurement. He said that we all want to be known. We all need to know that we're making a difference in people's lives. And people need to be able to measure for themselves if they are doing a good job. He ended his talk with this statement: Management is Ministry.

I needed this. These are practical, doable things. I want to be a part of creating an environment that's fun, meaningful and rewarding to work at.

Deadly Assassins

I just finished Deadly Viper Character Assassins and had to immediately post. I know I said this in an earlier post, but you need to go buy this book immediately. It is SO easy to read. It is short. It has cool pictures. But the value of this book is that it forces our minds to think about some assassins that are out to destroy our character and our lives.

They address seven assassins:
  1. Character Creep
  2. Zi Qi Qi Ren
  3. Amped Emotions
  4. Headless Sprinting Chicken
  5. Boom Chicka Wah Wah
  6. Bling Bling
  7. High and Mighty
Besides having incredibly creative and funny names, these chapters address issues that all of us struggle with. I was convicted/challenged/provoked many times as I read through this book.

We don't need to give our enemy any more fuel for his fire. I want to live by radical integrity and radical grace. I'm accepting the challenge. Will you?

The Most Powerful Man in the Room - Andy Stanley

Andy spoke in the first session out of John 13. He posed this question: What do you do when it dawns on you that you're the most powerful person in the room?

All things were under Jesus' power, so what did Jesus do? He shed his robe (his symbol of authority) and humbly washed the disciple's feet. This act of humility stunned the disciples. It made Peter uncomfortable. Then Jesus put back on his symbol of authority and told his disciples to follow his example.

If you want to know what to do when all eyes are on you, you need to follow Jesus' example: Shed your symbols of power for the benefit of those under your power. Look for ways to leverage your power for the sake of the other people in the room.

I'm still thinking through this whole issue. I'm not, by any means, even close to being an expert on authority and leadership, but when I look back on my life I see how so often I have not laid down my authority for the good of those under my authority. I see how often I have not followed Jesus' example, so it leaves me with some questions: How does this look in the life of a church planter? How does a person, who has a vision from God, life this principle out on a daily basis? How do you flesh this out in your family?

I'd love some comments or responses. (Make sure you add your name because I usually don't post responses from anonymous, whoever anonymous is)

Catalyst reviewed

Hopefully today I'll get around to posting all my notes from Catalyst last week. It was a great two days with such good content that my brain's still processing everything. That's where this blog's going to come in. I'm going to do posts from each speaker's talk and maybe share some commentary.

I need to mention something about a free book that was given out. On Thursday afternoon there were ninjas roaming the Gwinett arena handing out Mike and Jud's new book, Deadly Viper Character Assassins. I'm almost finished with this quick, but challenging read. As I was reading yesterday a thought went through my head: Character is the one thing that all of us need, but none of us want to talk about. I want to talk about it. I think it needs to be talked up. We'll see where these thoughts lead... maybe a sermon series sometime in the future? Anyway, you need to go by the book and read it. We need a revolution of Character.

I've got to mention this from the book. Mike and Jud say we need to be people of radical integrity and radical grace. I think that too often we in the church ere on the side of radical integrity but we shoot anyone that messes up. That's just plain stupid, and not to mention, unchristian. We need to also be people of radical grace. Then, maybe then, we can create a community that's safe to be real and authentic so that we can address the messes that most of us are.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Giant Panda

Today I get to fulfill the dream of a lifetime. I get to dress up as a Giant Panda and wave at elementary school students for 2 hours. Well, maybe it's not the dream of a lifetime, but it should be really fun.

I was thinking about being Patch (that's the name of the Giant Panda) this morning and this passage from Matthew came to mind. This is a great opportunity for me to be salt and light. Honestly, I wouldn't mind being River Ridge's resident Patch. Paul said to do all you do for the glory of God. I get to be a Giant Panda for the glory of God this morning! And on top of that Nathan thinks it's really cool.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Just another list

I'm in the mood to list some things this morning, so here we go:
  • 4-0... that was the score of our soccer game on Saturday. I love coaching Nathan's team. The kids are hilarious and they felt so good scoring 4 points.
  • I'm still recovering from Clemson's loss on Saturday. My friend Josh Phillips said it best: Pulling for Clemson is a curse. I mean that. It's a curse that there's no cure for.
  • These two posts (here and here) from Ben are great and I love this question from Tony.
  • Anybody else watching Chuck. We officially switched from Prison Break to Chuck last night. It's hilarious. The quote "We work with macs, we're IT artists" was so funny I'm still laughing this morning.
  • While we're on the TV talk, I love Heroes. It's a great show. I just wish it were on for two hours a week instead of one hour.
  • I can't wait to go to Catalyst tomorrow. I'm excited about going with Ryan.
  • Tomorrow AM I get to be Patch. Who is Patch? Patch is a big panda bear. Patch is the mascot at Nathan's school, River Ridge Elementary. Nathan is so excited that he's told his entire class that I'm going to be Patch.
  • Liz and I were hugging on Sunday (we only hug once a week) and we looked up and saw Matthew watching us. Liz asked him, What do you think about mommy and daddy hugging? He said very seriously, It's beautiful. Liz says he's such a sweetheart. I think we might be in trouble when he's a teenager. He's our romantic child.
That's enough for now.