Friday, December 31, 2010

A new thing

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” - Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Good encouragement/reminder for today

The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. Mark 4:18-19 (NLT)

"Now, listen carefully, when something crowds God out of my heart, you know what it's called? It's called an idol."

As we discussed yesterday, God wants more than just a little piece of your heart. He wants your whole heart.

Jesus talked about how easy it is to let your heart become so overcrowded that you have no room for God. He says there are those who hear God's word, but they become overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get, and eventually the stress strangles what they heard - so nothing comes of it.

This is why some people can go to church week-after-week and year-after-year and yet there is little change in their lives. The seed that is planted through the Word on the weekend isn't able to grow because there is no room in the heart.

Now, listen carefully, when something crowds God out of my heart, you know what it's called? It's called an idol. An idol is anything that takes the place of God in my heart. And the Bible says there should be no idols in our hearts.

Idolatry doesn't mean you have a little statue that you kneel before and pray. An idol can be your career. An idol can be your boyfriend. An idol can be making money. An idol can be a dream. An idol with can be your marriage. Anything that is more important to you than God is an idol.

The Bible says, "Be still, and know that I am God!" (Psalms 46:10 NLT) Here's a rough translation: sit down and calm down. You can resign as the general manager of the universe and it's not going to fall apart. You may be so busy putting irons in the fire, that you're about to put the fire out.

Jesus is telling us to get rid of the clutter in our hearts and make room for his pervasive presence in our lives.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One Decision

Here's a great post from Mark Batterson that's timely for making the most of 2011.
I'm a big believer in the power of one decision. You are only one decision away from a totally different life. I think we get overwhelmed by the thought of making massive changes so we don't make any! But you don't have to make big changes. You need to make small changesand then consistently follow thru on them.

one decision that will revolutionize your spiritual life: read the Bible daily.
one decision that will revolutionize your health: go to the gym 3x/week.
one decision that will revolutionize your mind: read one book a month.

What one decision would revolutionize your body, spirit or mind?

The Next Christians - a Great read

cover.gif When I first heard about this book I knew that I wanted to read it. I love learning about trends among Christians and the Church, especially the Church in America. What I expected was good news about where the Church and Christians were going and some good stories about what they are doing, and some bad news about where we're still falling short. The Next Christians contained all of that, but I got so much more.

For me, this turned out to be a book that helped me grow spiritually. Specifically, Lyon's six characteristics of Restorers gave me a great picture of how things should be in my life. I was specifically challenged and moved by the chapters on Called, not Employed and Grounded, not Distracted. The book is worth reading just for those two chapters.

I was also appreciative of his discussion of the full Gospel. There is much talk about the Gospel, but very little definition of what the Gospel actually is. I love the idea that the full Gospel involves Creation, the Fall, Redemption and Restoration. We usually leave out Creation and Restoration, and that is one reason why I think folks are disinterested in Christianity. We're not sharing and living out the full Gospel.

This book is an easy read with great stories. I highly recommend it. This book was provided courtesy of Blogging for Books.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An opportunity to be generous

I am really looking forward to our second annual Year End Gift Offering that we'll be receiving this Sunday, Dec. 19, at Hub City Church. I know it sounds strange to be looking forward to an offering, but I believe that generosity breaks the hold that greed has over so many of our lives. And many of the Hub City folks are going to go all out with their generosity.

Here's where the offering is going to go towards this year:
  • Year End Gift Offering. We'll be receiving this offering on Sunday, December 19. The goal is $4000 and we're going to split whatever comes in evenly between four ministries.
    1. To purchase medical supplies to help bring an end to the Cholera epidemic in Haiti.
    2. To local ministries like The Have and Celebrate Recovery.
    3. To reach out to our community through new signs and Guerrilla Lover projects.
    4. To purchase needed equipment to make our worship gathering even better for the unchurched and disinterested
So here's what you need to do. Ask God what he would have you or your family give, then do what he says. I challenge you to give your biggest gift to God this Christmas. That's what my family is planning to do.

You can also give online at or by mailing your gift to PO Box 55, Moore SC 29369.

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    More, more and more

    I've been thinking a lot lately about organizational growth, specifically church growth. Now I know that the idea of church growth is offensive to some people, but all healthy organisms grow. My questions revolve around this main question: How can we grow in a healthy way? I don't think cancerous growth is healthy. It's fast, it can get big, but it's dangerous. But I do think that healthy growth is important. With that in mind, I came across this quote.


    On "the undisciplined pursuit of more"
    "Regulate growth, regulate reach. Do we have all our key seats filled with fantastic people? If the answer is no, we must resist growth until all those seats are filled with fantastic people."

    He says it another way in his book Good to Great. It's all about getting the right people on the bus, in the right seats, with the bus pointed in the right direction.

    So, are you in the right seat on the bus? If not, where would you be a better fit?

    The best time for an invitation

    Read this stat today. Here are theTop Five Times People Are Open To Considering Matters Of Faith…

    • #5 – After the birth of a baby (28%)
    • #4 – After a natural disaster (34%)
    • #3 – After a major national crisis i.e. 9/11 (38%)
    • #2 – During the Easter season (38%)
    • #1 – During the Christmas season (47%)
    So what's my point? Invite someone to Hub City this Sunday. Who knows, they may say yes.

    Thursday, December 09, 2010

    In preparation for Sunday

    Sunday's the last week of our Coexist series. We're talking about Islam. It should be fun.

    We'll today I came across this on Perry Noble's blog. I think it's a great article and a great primer for Sunday. Read it and let me know your thoughts:

    A few months ago when I was in England I had a great conversation with a Muslim…here’s how it went…

    The group I was traveling with had to get up early to make our flight…so we had made arrangements for a driving service to pick us up at our motel and take us to the airport. It was around 4am and I stumbled through the lobby and sat down in the front seat of a car next to our driver, who I later found out was named Abdul.

    Now…I’m a firm believer in what the Scriptures teach in Acts 17:26-27, that NOTHING that happens on the planet is by accident…there is no such thing as luck or coincidence. We’re placed here on this planet as ministers of reconciliation (see II Corinthians 5:16-21) and so I began a normal conversation with Abdul and begged the Holy Spirit to open a door…

    HE did!

    I asked Abdul about his family, how long he had been working for the company he was with and we made small talk for several minutes. Then…I asked him where he was from. He told me he was originally from Bangladesh…to which I replied I had never been there. I then asked him what the primary religions of Bangladesh were and he told me that the people there were mostly Muslim, although there were some Christians.

    Then I asked him what religion he practiced.

    There was a very long pause…he gulped and then said these exact words to me, “I am a Muslim, but I’m not a terrorist.” Which was good to hear considering we were literally driving down the road at 100mph!

    I asked him why he was so quick to separate himself from the terrorists and he told me, “most Muslims are not like that. I don’t believe that if you blow yourself up you get 72 virgins…I believe if you do that you go to hell.”

    I thought that was interesting…and so we continued to talk about his religion, how devote he was and how often he was able to live out his faith. (Christians…please notice I did not begin to dismantle the Five Pillars of Islam one by one, I did not attack Muhammed, I did not talk about the perceived problems of his religion…I simply asked a lot of questions and listened. It’s amazing how people will open up when they do not feel like a project and/or attacked.)

    I then asked him the big question, “so…what do you think about Jesus?”

    He replied, “Jesus was a great man, a great prophet, but He was not God’s Son…because God doesn’t have a Son.”


    We had a great conversation about Jesus for about the next 10 minutes. Honestly, I would love to be able to end this story by saying I shared the Gospel with Abdul and that he pulled over on the side of the road and received Christ and is now the director of one of the largest Christian organizations in the world. (Isn’t that how most preacher stories go?)

    BUT…that didn’t happen. Honestly, the door for me to be able to share the Gospel never opened. AND…believe me I tried. But…as Abdul drove away I honestly felt THE reason I had come into contact with him was to ask him the question, “What do you think about Jesus?”

    As I sat in the airport that morning reflecting on all that had taken place I had several thoughts…

    #1 – The reason that many Christians can so easily hate Muslims is because they have never actually had a conversation with one. It’s hard to hate someone once you begin to understand they have a story, a family, desires…AND a SOUL!!!

    #2 – Just like all Christians are not ridiculous, sign carrying, funeral protesting idiots…all Muslims are not sitting in basements assembling bombs and planning the takeover of the world.

    #3 – The world needs to know WHO Jesus is and WHAT Jesus taught (He said something about that in Matthew 28:18-20!) Because, knowing these two things completely take away the argument that He was a good man and a great teacher but not God’s Son. (Because, if He was a good name and a great teacher/prophet…then He could not have taught lies.

    #4 – God doesn’t always want us to shove the Gospel down people’s throats…but He does want us to be available and open to walk with Him step by step.

    I will honestly have to say that my conversation with Abdul was one of the best things about my London trip. I am convinced now more than ever that all of the religions of the world do NOT basically teach the same thing…and that the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ has GOT to be preached to everyone everywhere…but it has to be done so through people actually loving, caring for and respecting the people that HE has called us to reach…because…

    …NO ONE has ever converted to Christianity because of our arrogance…but rather because of what Jesus said for us to be all about in John 13:34-35.

    Everyone has a soul…a story…a heart, and everyone needs Jesus. AND…I believe when the church is willing to move past our prejudices and our misconceptions about WHO we are trying to reach…it is THEN we will see the reality of Matthew 24:14 right before our eyes!

    Don't resist

    There's something in all of us that resists doing the right thing. There are a number of reasons we resist. Maybe we want to do the easy thing. Maybe we're comfortable and to do the right thing would mean moving out of our comfort zone. Maybe we're just stubborn.

    But don't resist. The consequences for resisting will far overshadow and outweigh the temporary costs of doing the right thing.

    A prayer that I pray for my boys all the time is that they will have the wisdom to know the wise and right thing to do, and then that they'll have the courage to do the right thing, even if it's hard. I pray that for you too.

    Don't resist.

    Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    The effects of pornography

    It's like the elephant in the room that churches don't talk about, but we need to talk about it. We're going to talk about it in the fall of 2011 at Hub City. I came across this article about the effects of pornography. Good stuff. You can read it here.


    Lately, I have been overwhelmed by the needs, struggles and burdens that people are carrying around. So many people are struggling with so many things.

    Unfortunately, so many people are struggling alone. It doesn't need to be that way. If you're carrying a burden or struggling with a problem or sin, tell someone. We need one another.

    In light of all of this, I want to invite you to pray with me for Hub City Church (the people, not the organization). We're a family. We need to pray for one another.

    If you need prayer, email me. We have a prayer team that wants to pray for you.

    Monday, December 06, 2010

    Good reminder and encouragement

    I was encouraged by this today. Maybe it will encourage you as well.

    "If you love me, you will obey what I command." John 14:15 (NIV)

    "God wants us to see obedience to him as a relationship of love. And out of love comes trust."

    In the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, let's pause and think back to the first Christmas. Have you ever stopped to put yourself in Joseph's shoes? Here was a guy who found out his fiancé was pregnant, claiming she was visited by an angel and it's God's baby. And she wanted him to believe her!

    In an instant Joseph's whole world was turned upside down. This was not the way his life was supposed to turn out. It just didn't make any sense.

    Do you know the feeling? Maybe you finances suddenly take a turn for the worse, or layoffs are looming at work, or you've just received news of a health crisis in your family. How are you going to handle it? What do you do when things in your life don't make sense?

    Joseph made the choice to do what God said to do and it changed everything. Joseph chose to obey God even though he didn't understand what was happening.

    Today, the word obey has a negative connotation. We view obedience as a forced, unwilling decision to do something we don't want to do because we're afraid of punishment.

    But that's not the kind of obedience that's in God's Word. Obedience in the Bible means this: love + trust + action.

    It starts with love, as Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (NIV). Obedience comes from knowing that God loves you and you love him in return.

    A lot of people think obedience is about fearing God, but God wants us to see obedience to him as a relationship of love. And out of love comes trust. If you trust what God is saying to you, and you believe that he loves you, then that will lead to action.

    You need to have all three because action without love is just rote religion. And love without action is just mere talk.

    Joseph was able to accept what Mary and the angel told him because of his relationship with God. He knew God loved him and he loved God. He trusted God and made the choice to do what God asked him to do. And because of that, Joseph's life is still impacting lives today.

    Friday, December 03, 2010

    Where have all the losers gone?

    Loved this post from Vince. Reminds me of a song I used to listen to, Jesus is for Losers.

    Let's ignore Jesus for a second. (By the way, not typically good advice.) Is there anyone in the Bible you couldn't prove is a loser in like ten seconds. You might argue Joseph or Daniel, maybe Hannah or Ruth? Out of the thousands of people, there are a handful who aren't such losers it immediately jumps out at you.

    So let's go modern day. Think about pastors, people in churches - is there anyone you could prove is a loser, at all? Maybe a handful. But most everyone appears to be just about perfect.

    So is it that the human race has so dramatically improved? Or is it that we're liars and pretend we're alright so everyone is impressed with us, while we stay sick inside, unable to get help because we won't be honest?