Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Partial to the Bible

I've talked to a number of folks lately about different books and curriculum that they are using for small groups at their churches. There are some great books and curriculum out there.

But I'm not a fan of using books or curriculum in a small group. I actually think that those things may just hinder our spiritual growth at times, especially in a small group.

There's so much I could say about this. The Word of God is living and active. The Bible is the primary means used by God to speak to his people. Why do we substitute something for the Bible. I know those books have great content. I've read many of them. But something supernatural takes place when we study the Bible. The Holy Spirit shows up and teaches us. God speaks to each person where they are.

That's why I'm partial to the Bible. I think small groups should study the Bible. BTW: That's why we do "storying" in our Hub Groups. We're going to talk about that and much more during our upcoming Sunday morning series called Why? It begins July 17th.

Working on it

This has been a fun week so far. Instead of getting ready for a sermon on Sunday I've been able to do some work "on" the church, some planning, some praying, so future thinking. I've been needing to do this for a while.

I am really excited about what we're going to be teaching come Fall.

I'm looking for ideas for future teaching series that might be helpful. I have about 136 in my "possible" folder, but am always open to more suggestions/ideas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some life-altering questions I'm thinking about

I love the book of Acts. The story of the first church is incredible. Josh and I were talking about it last week. Specifically we were talking about when the Holy Spirit came that there was a supernatural and rapid spread of the Gospel that resulted in exponential growth for the first century church.

If you know the story, there was a group of 120 disciples praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit. They were doing what Jesus told them to do. Then the Holy Spirit came and they started speaking in all kinds of different languages and people from all over the world heard the Gospel in their own language and 3000 people ended up becoming Christians in one day.

When we think of the Holy Spirit coming we selfishly think of it coming for our benefit, but the Holy Spirit didn't come for the benefit of those 120 who were praying. It came to supernaturally enable and equip them to rapidly spread the Gospel to those who needed to hear it.

Which leaves me with some questions that I posed to Josh and to our Leadership Community last night:

What would it look like in our day for the Holy Spirit to come so that there is a rapid spread of the Gospel and an exponential growth in the church (new disciples)?

Do we even want that?

Are we willing to pay the price?

Monday, June 20, 2011

A lesson from my 95 year old grandfather

We went to see my grandparents on Father's day. My grandpa is 95. He's doing good for someone who's less than 5 years from the century mark.

But yesterday he unintentionally taught me something that's a lesson for all of us.

Because of some health problems he hasn't been able to attend his church's Sunday worship. But flippantly he said, "I continue to send in my tithes and offerings."

That statement stood out to me.

Here's the deal: My grandfather isn't getting anything in return for his giving. He can't physically worship with his church family. He can't participate in their ministries for senior citizens. But he is faithful with tithing. I think God will bless him for that. I believe there will be a reward for him in heaven for that faithfulness.

So here's the question: Are we being faithful in our giving? It's so freaking easy. You can give online. You can mail it in. You can give during worship.

I think we can learn a lot from grandpa Henry's example of obedience.

How to waste time

I'm convinced more and more that we're wasting our lives away. I'm just as guilty of wasting time as anyone else. I have to guard against it. I have to discipline myself to make the most of my time.

Take an inventory. How much time do you spend on meaningless activities (Facebook, video games, TV, playing with your smart phone, etc.)? I dare you to add it up.

It's depressing isn't it?

How much more meaningful and effective could our lives be for God if we cut out the waste?

We only got one life to live. We need to make the most of it.

I think the Devil is thrilled with how much time we waste. I think he loves it when we spend countless hours doing meaningless crap.

Put down the smart phone. Turn off the TV. Cut the Facebook leash.

Ephesians 5:15-16 says Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Memory Verses

One of the best habits you can develop is the habit of memorizing Scripture. Jaimee Holmes found this site that can help with that. Check it out and start memorizing today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Confessions of a Pastor

A lot of times leaders act like they have it all together, like they have all the answers, like everything is a-ok (picture someone giving two thumbs up with a big, cheesy smile, and a photoshopped sparkle coming off one of their teeth).

That's not me.

That's why we're doing this Confessions of a Pastor series.

And this Sunday I'm going to be confessing something that I'm pretty sure most breathing adults struggle with as well.

I know it's Father's Day, which for some reason or another means, "Sit out of church day." Don't do that. I think that God has something he wants to say to you. Don't miss it. See you Sunday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No love = Heresy

I read this article today and had to pass it along because it resonates so deeply within me. I firmly believe we have a serious love deficiency in the Church. This quote below is so good:

The thing is there’s absolutely nothing fluffy, post-modern, or sentimental about placing love above doctrinal correctness, for this conviction permeates the NT! Truth be told, we shouldn’t even contrast “love” and “doctrinal correctness” in the first place. We should rather regard the command to love as the most foundational doctrine of the church and thus the most important doctrine to be correct on! Peter says, “Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins” (and alleged “heresies”? I Pet. 4:8, cf., Col 3:14). If love is to be placed “above all,” then there simply can’t be any other command or doctrine or agenda that competes with it for the top position. It must stand on top alone. Paul makes the same point, but even more emphatically, when he tells us it doesn’t matter how right we are, how spiritually gifted we are, how intelligent or wise we are, or even how much faith and service we display; if these aren’t accompanied by love, they are a noisy gong or clanging cymbal (I Cor 13:1-3). In other words:

Correct doctrine - love = worthless noise!

If we take this teaching seriously, it means that nothing – absolutely nothing! — matters if love isn’t present…which means that love is the most important doctrine we can ever embrace…which means that our willingness to love is the most important criteria of orthodoxy…which means that, if ever it is appropriate to label anything “heresy,” it is the failure to love.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Washington - a review

I read all kinds of stuff, but surprisingly have never read anything about George Washington. We all know, or at least I hope we all know, that he was our first president, but beyond that and the weird story about a cherry tree, most of us are in the dark.

Washington, by Paul Vickery, has changed how I look at the man we find on our quarter. He was a man who experienced both victory and defeat. He was a man who wanted to quit and who wanted to serve. All of that comes out in this book.

I think what I really enjoyed is the humanity of Washington put front and center. That is not something we usually hear in Elementary Social Studies.

I will say, the book reads a lot like a research paper at times with a lot of quotes and old English, but if you can push through that you'll not only gain a clearer and more healthy picture of our first president, but also a shot of courage and character, two things that are seriously lacking in the leadership of our day.

The rapid growth of the Chinese church

This is an absolutely fascinating article on the rapid growth of the Chinese church. It blows me away, shames me and causes me to think. Read it and let me know your thoughts.

My questions are: In our American context, is this possible? Can we see this sort of explosion? Are we willing to pay the price for this sort of explosive growth?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


The past two days I had the honor of helping facilitate an Immersion. If you're wondering what an Immersion is, well, it's a two day experienced where you learn and experience how to make disciples.

I love Immersion. We'll be doing one for Hub City in late July/early August.

But what always amazes me is that I alway seem to get more out of the experience than the people I'm facilitating.

What hit me like a 2x4 is that I've been distracted lately away from doing what it is we're supposed to be doing.

Our mission is to make disciples who make disciples. How could I get distracted from that? Immersion was a reminder for me. It was re-aligning for me. I needed it.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Spiritual Maturity is for Ministry

This is something that we need to be reminded of often.

Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life. Matthew 20:28 (LB)

We are commanded to serve God. Jesus was very clear: “Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life” (Matthew 20:28 LB).

For Christians, service is not something to be tacked onto our schedules if we can spare the time. It is the heart of the Christian life. Jesus came “to serve” and “to give”—and those two verbs should define your life on earth, too.

Jesus taught that spiritual maturity is never an end in itself. Maturity is for ministry! We grow up in order to give out. It is not enough to keep learning more and more. We must act on what we know and practice what we claim to believe. Study without service leads to spiritual stagnation.

The last thing many believers need is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. They need to exercise their spiritual muscles by serving others.

Serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we’re more interested in “serve us” than service. But, as we mature in Christ, the focus of our lives should increasingly shift to living a life of service. The mature follower of Jesus stops asking, “Who’s going to meet my needs?” and starts asking, “Whose needs can I meet?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Hub City Weekly Update

Hey everybody,

I want to begin by saying a huge THANK YOU to all of you who worked so hard to make our first Movies in the Park of 2011 such a success. It went great because of you! Thank you for giving your time. Thank you for serving. Thank you for reaching out to people. Thank you for making Spartanburg a better place to live, work and play. Don't forget, the next movie is June 18. We're showing Despicable Me.

I know summer is a time of travel and relaxation. I do hope that you can make the most of this summer by stepping out of some of your usual routines to relax and refresh. At the same time I there are a couple of things that I want to encourage you to not take a break from. More than anything, I want for you to grow as a disciple of Jesus this summer. I want you to hear from God and do what he says. In order for that to happen here are a few things to not take a break from this summer.
  • If you're in town, don't take a break from worship. I think God is going to do some incredible stuff in your lives this summer if you'll make yourself available to him.
  • Don't take a break from giving. Traditionally the summer is a time when people take a break from giving. But as we've talked about, giving is a direct reflection of your heart. It's been my experience that there is a direct correlation between giving tithes and offerings and spiritual growth. You can give online at www.hubcitychurch.com. You can mail your tithes and offerings to PO Box 55, Moore, SC 29369. I think the summer is a great time to "test" God in this area (This is the only area in the Bible where God says, "test me.").
  • Don't take a break from serving. The summer is a great time to try out a new ministry. Volunteer in the kids area. Be a greeter for the day. Learn how to do the presentation software. Show up early to setup. We have a place for you to get involved.
  • Don't take a break from inviting. Your unchurched friends just might be willing to take a chance on church this summer. Don't miss the opportunity to invite them.
  • Finally, don't take a break from Hub Groups. We have Hub Groups meeting at various times over the summer. Some will continue to meet every week. Others, like mine, will meet every other week. If you're not in a Hub Group now is a great time to get connected.
I believe God wants to do some great things in and through us this summer.

Your friend and pastor,


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The first hour of your day

Anyone who knows me or who has heard me speak more than three times knows that I am a strong believer in taking time every day to read your Bible. It's the most important habit that you could ever develop.

I came across a great quote today from Charles Spurgeon, a great nineteenth-century British preacher.

It should be our rule never to see the face of men before first seeing the face of God. The morning watch anchors the soul so that it will not very readily drift far away from God during the day.... He who rushes from his bed to his business without first spending time with God is as foolish as though he had not washed or dressed, and as unwise as one dashing to battle without arms or armor.

And Mark DeMoss says, If you're thinking that a person could just as easily get apart with God over the noon hour, you're right, you could--unless something else comes up. You could also do it in the evening before going to be, assuming you can muster the energy and focus. Or you could hope to steal a few moments here and there during the course of the day. But nothing sets the day like matching our best hour (the first of the day) with our deepest and dearest Resource (the Bible).

Do whatever it takes to spend time with God on a daily basis through Bible reading and prayer.