Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What I'll be doing this weekend

Theology Matters

I know a lot of people put a wall up and shut down when words like theology and doctrine come up. And I understand that. Unfortunately most of what has been experienced is someone using theology and doctrine as a club to beat people with.

That's a disgrace.

Theology is just the study of God. Doctrine is what we believe. Neither are weapons. Both are extremely important.

What we believe about God impacts every area of our lives. If we have wrong believe it will have disastrous consequences. And I don't think I'm overstating things.

What we believe about God matters. It shapes our worldview. It determines our values. It guides our behavior. It has eternal consequences for us and for everyone we know.

Run towards theology and doctrine. Know God. Know what you believe. Know why you believe it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sermon series ideas

I have so many sermon series ideas running through my head. Here are a few ideas:
  • Faith: What it is. What it isn't.
  • Letters to Hub City Church: We would go through the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation.
  • Parables: Exploring Jesus' parables.
  • Hell: This series is a bit frightening to think about, but ever since reading Francis Chan's book it's been on my mind.
  • Famous stories from the Old Testament: There are so many great stories in the O.T. This would look at a few of those.
I would appreciate you praying for guidance and discernment. I want to teach what God wants me to teach.

I would also love to hear from you. What topics would you like to learn more about? Where are you struggling? Where is someone close to you struggling.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What defines us

I think we all need to be reminded of this often:

Be Defined by Your Service to Others
by Rick Warren
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)
Service is not something to be tacked onto our schedules when 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! 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.

Yet serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we’re more interested in “serve us” than service. We say, “I’m looking for a church that meets my needs and blesses me,” not, “I’m looking for a place to serve and be a blessing.”

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?”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Erasing Hell

This is a book you should read.

It will mess you up.

Enough said. Get the book. Read it.

A walk

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in a while. I took a walk with God in the cool, darkness of the morning. It was refreshing. It helped me pray in a new way.

I recommend you try it. You may just experience God is a completely new way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Happened at Movies in the Park

Our final Movies in the Park will go down as the most memorable of all time.

Things were going great. We got setup quickly. The crowd was starting to come in. Someone noticed on their smart phone weather app that a small shower that was headed our way, but by the look of the radar it appeared to just be a drizzle.

The drizzle started. I made an announcement that the event was still on and that we were just waiting out the shower.

Then the bottom dropped out. What began as a small drizzle became the storm of the century. The light green radar turned dark red and grew. Not only did it rain torrentially, but there was massive lightning. Lightening was popping every 10 seconds. I don't like lightening.

We had 15 people stuck in our church's trailer with all of our equipment. There were people taking shelter under the stage and at Barnet Park's picnic shelter. We had a few folks stuck in the metal coke trailer, not the best place to be when there is lots of lightening.

But the storm didn't let up. It got worse. Unlike most summer storms that move through after a few minutes, this storm stopped over the city and stayed there for almost two hours. Come to find out, there was flash flooding all over Spartanburg with roads shut down around the city.

The wind picked up drastically and ripped our movie screen to shreds and bent the metal poles. It was bad. When we went back to Barnet Park to clean up one of our guys said it reminded him of Ringold, Georgia, the town devastated by the tornado a few months back.

I kept thinking of the tragedy in Indiana with the collapsing stage that killed 5 people a few weeks ago. That could have been us. I'm thankful that God kept us safe.

The only casualties were the screen, its frame, and our projector. Not sure how the projector got damaged but it did. Pray that it's an easy and quick fix.

One of our guys, Bryan Scott, took a video on his phone that you can see here.

I am so amazed by Hub City's people. The all stayed and really risked their lives to save our equipment and help people make it to their cars.

I'm also thankful for Scott from the city and Sargent Raines from the police department. They went out of their way to help people stay safe.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The call of God

It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis. ~ Oswald Chambers

Three full-time

Today was an exciting day. This is the first time that all three of my boys have all been in school full time.

We've been telling Levi he's going to go to school all day this year and he has been a bit stressed about it. He thought we mean that he'd be at school for all the daylight hours. He was greatly relieved to find out he'd be getting out of school at the same time Matthew gets out.

On a work note, this is the first time since we moved to Spartanburg in 2005 when I can work from home with no kids during the day. It's a new chapter for all of us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Radical Together

I don't know if you've read David Platt's book Radical yet, but you should. Radical Together is the follow-up to Radical.

And while Radical is a personal book, Radical Together takes the principles of Radical and talks about them on a corporate, Church, community level.

I believe that Radical Together should be required reading for all church leaders. I have it sitting on my desk because it's one of those books that's going to require a second reading. I'm still thinking about and processing much of what I read. And flipping back through the book I see why I used an entire Highlighter as I read.

It's a short book, but it's not a quick read. There's too much to think about. The subtitle is Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God. What Radical Together does is give us a framework for doing what the subtitle says by bringing things back to the basics. I think that is the greatest value of this book. It takes away the fluff (and let's be honest, most American churches have a lot of fluff) and gets back to basic stuff.


I thought this devotion from Rick Warren needed to be spread around.

I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends for eternity. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven … but if you are unfaithful with your worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? ... You cannot serve both God and money. (Luke 16: 9-14 NLT)
If you're going to become like Jesus, you need to learn how to be generous.

It’s easy to give your time, energy or money when you have a lot to spare. But the true test of generosity comes when you don’t have a surplus. Do you still give what little you have to help somebody else? If you do, congratulations! You’ve passed God’s test of generosity.

Why does God test your generosity? Because you were made in his image, so if you’re going to become like Jesus, you need to learn how to be generous. If you don’t, you’ll never grow to maturity, and you will never have the blessing of God on your life.

What if you’re in a recession and things aren’t going well — you’re out of work or you’re out of money and you feel like you have no more time or energy to give. How can you be generous when you’re stretched thin?

A good example for us is in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul says this about the churches in Macedonia: “Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others” (2 Corinthians 8:2 LB). Joy and generosity always go together.

An acid test of how much you trust God is the way you handle your money, because it shows what’s important to you.

As a pastor, I want you to succeed financially so you can be generous, help other people, and do good in the world. So here are five principles to help you thrive even in a recession.

  1. Obeying God’s vision will bring God’s provision. When you say, “God, I’m going to do what you want me to do regardless of whether I have the money or resources to do it,” God will provide everything you need to get it done.
  2. When I do all God tells me to do, he does what I can’t do. Give God whatever you have, however meager it may be, and God will multiply it to do more than you imagined, just like he did with the five loaves and two fish.
  3. God gives to generous people. The more generous you are, the more God will give you.
  4. Whenever I have a need, I need to sow a seed. Whatever you need more of, give it away. In order to harvest a crop, you first have to plant the seeds.
  5. There is always a delay between sowing and reaping. A harvest is not automatic. It takes time and patience.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What I love about sending my kids to school

I'm excited. School started back today. Nathan is moving up in the world. He starts 5th grade at a new school. Matthew begins life as a 3rd grader. Levi officially begins going all day like his big brothers on Thursday.

Now, I'm not just excited because they are out of the house, which just happens to be my office.

I've been thinking a lot about why I'm excited.
  • Going to school helps my boys develop independence. As a parent that is one thing I want for them. I want for them to eventually be able to live without me. I've always said that a main goal in parenting is to learn to de-parent. This is one reason why we don't do homework or project for our boys. Sure we'll help if they are stuck, but they have to learn to take responsibility of their own work. School helps develop this in them and grows them as individuals who can contribute to society. Nathan is riding the bus home for the first time in his educational career. That's a big, exciting step for a 10 year old. I figure he'll be driving alone in 6 years. He needs this kind of baby step now to prepare him for that giant leap.
  • Going to public school puts my kids in an environment where they can learn what it means to be salt and light. I want my kids to be missionaries. They can't do that if they are only surrounded by like-minded kids or me. One day they are going to enter the real world. Our real world is growing more secular by the day. I want them to learn now how to be salt and light and live for Jesus in that world.
  • Going to school opens my boys up to a whole new level of experiences that they would never get at home. Nathan's starting band this year. He's already begun jammin' on his beginner percussion kit. Matthew is in the gifted and talented program (something I was never invited to be a part of) and the Creations Honors Art program (something that doesn't go to people who's best artwork is crooked stick figures... like me).
  • Finally (at least for now), going to school opens up the doors for my kids to make new friends and learn how to navigate relationships. Relational Intelligence is something I want my kids to develop and putting them in a context where they can make new friends and deal with kids who aren't so nice or who aren't like them is the best way to put them on a path that leads to relational intelligence.
That's why I'm excited about today. I can't wait for 3 PM to get here to hear all about school on day one. Now I'm enjoying the silence.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Don't co-op Jesus

Yesterday I went to the Get Motivated seminar at the Bilo center. I'll confess, my expectations were pretty low. I mean, the tickets only cost $1.95. But they had some impressive speakers in the line-up (Laura Bush, Colin Powell, Steve Forbes, Bill Cosby, etc), so I decided to go.

First, there was some good content from the promoted speakers. I will say that many of them seemed like they threw a speech together in 5 minutes while sitting on the toilet, but hey, it only cost $1.95.

But there were two speakers that I wanted to punch in the throat. I know it's not nice to say that, but they made me mad. They were slick sales guys who were trying to get participants to sign up for a class to learn how to make more money. That's fine. I have no problem with that.

What angered me was how these guys co-opted Jesus. It was like Jesus was on their side and he was their trump-card. "Invest their way, love America and follow Jesus and you won't have to work a real job any more in your life."

I may be wrong, but I don't think Jesus needs to be co-opted. I think he needs to be followed, and humbly at that. Jesus is the Lord of all. He is the King. Let's not go out of our way to bring him down to our size and help us fulfill our American Dream. That's not what being a disciple of Jesus is about.

I guess what I'm getting at is that these guys make genuine follower of Jesus look bad. So please, if you were there, don't judge Jesus' followers from what you heard/learned from these guys. I apologize for how they misrepresented Christianity.

On a humorous note, I left the Bilo center to get some lunch (had a great Calzone at one of my favorite places downtown Greenville - Bertollo's Pizza). When I got back the doors to the Bilo Center were locked. Supposedly the Fire Marshall wouldn't let any more people in. I think it might be because I didn't sign up for the class on how to make more money. Eventually they let 100 people in and I was number 47. But man, people sure can get angry when they are locked out of a $1.95 seminar. I wasn't one of them.

Privileges vs. Obligations

I read a quote today that was super powerful.

Do you remember the elder bother in the parable of the prodigal son? He wanted the privileges of being a son, but not the obligations that came with being a brother.

I think that so often describes us as Christians. We want things cool between us and God with all the privileges that come with that. But we could do without loving our brothers and sisters.

But following Jesus is about both. It is both vertical and horizontal. We live out our love for God by loving others. Most of Jesus' and the New Testament commands have to do with how we treat others.

In other words, privileges and obligation go hand in hand. If we get this right we would radically alter people's perceptions of Christianity and in turn, radically transform the world in which we live.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

God's investment advice

I know, stock are plummeting. I read this today and wanted to pass it along:

God's Investment Advice

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." - Matthew 6:19

Imagine you're alive at the end of the Civil War. You're living in the South, but you are a Northerner. You plan to move home as soon as the war is over. While in the South you've accumulated lots of Confederate currency. Now, suppose you know for a fact that the North is going to win the war and the end is imminent. What will you do with your Confederate money?

If you're smart, there's only one answer. You should immediately cash in your Confederate currency for U.S. currency--the only money that will have value once the war is over. Keep only enough Confederate currency to meet your short-term needs.

As a Christian, you have inside knowledge of an eventual worldwide upheaval caused by Christ's return. This is the ultimate insider trading tip: Earth's currency will become worthless when Christ returns--or when you die, whichever comes first. (And either event could happen at any time.)

Investment experts known as market timers read signs that the stock market is about to take a downward turn, then recommend switching funds immediately into more dependable vehicles such as money markets, treasury bills, or certificates of deposit.

Jesus functions here as the foremost market timer. He tells us to once and for all switch investment vehicles. He instructs us to transfer our funds from earth (which is volatile and ready to take a permanent dive) to heaven (which is totally dependable, insured by God Himself, and is coming soon to forever replace earth's economy). Christ's financial forecast for earth is bleak--but He's unreservedly bullish about investing in heaven, where every market indicator is eternally positive!

There's nothing wrong with Confederate money, as long as you understand its limits. Realizing its value is temporary should radically affect your investment strategy. To accumulate vast earthly treasures that you can't possibly hold on to for long is equivalent to stockpiling Confederate money even though you know it's about to become worthless.

According to Jesus, storing up earthly treasures isn't simply wrong. It's just plain stupid.

-- Excerpted from The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

Monday, August 01, 2011

Mike Breen

I'm beginning to like this guy more and more. I like the way he thinks. I like the way he sees. This is a great post that's worth reading and that I've found to be true, but unfortunately, it seems that few leaders in the modern-American church care.

How C.S. sees it

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis on attending a worship gathering.
When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; I disliked very much their hymns which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.