Thursday, December 19, 2013

You will have trouble

Back in college I memorized something Jesus said in John 16:33. The second part of the verse says this: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Think about what Jesus says here. He promises trouble.

Thanks Jesus.

He knows we live in a fallen world, and being his follower doesn't get you a pass. You will have trouble. It's a promise.

But Jesus doesn't leave it there. He goes on to say: Take heart! I have overcome the world.

Even thought we're promised trouble in this world Jesus also lets us know that he has overcome the world. 

But honestly, "Whoop-tee-do, Jesus. What good is that to me?"

I'm glad you asked because that's where the first part of the verse comes into play:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus says that in him you may have peace. It's the in him that's the most important part of that verse. 

We are to do life in him. That makes all the difference. 

This Christmas, as we remember that God became one of us so that we might know him, let's also remember to do life in him, because in the midst of this world where we will have trouble, we have a savior who has not only overcome the world, but who promises peace to those who are in him. So let's stay there.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

My binge drinking dog

My dog, Henry, is a binge drinker. He'll drink two to three bowls of water at a time. It's strange. I think he has a problem. But then last night happened.

Last night we discovered that Henry got into Matthew's Halloween candy: Nerds, Laffy-Taffy, Smarties and Sweet-tarts.

It appears that candy makes dogs thirstier than normal, so last night Henry had more water than normal, probably four to five bowls. This heavy drinking caused him to wake up at 4 in the morning needing to go out. But I'm asleep at 4 AM, so Henry, after holding it as long as possible (at least I assumed he tried to hold it), let pee leak all over my bathroom... every rug... dribbles on the linoleum floor... lots of pee... everywhere. Not what you want to find when the dog finally woke me up at 4:36.

And guess what? Candy must also make dogs have to poop more. By 8:30 this morning Henry had pooped 3 times with each poop filled with an assortment of candy wrappers.

I am seriously considering finding Henry a new home. 

I apologize for the gross post, but this was a story that needed telling.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Awe and wonder

Every single time I read the beginning of the book of Acts I am slapped in the face by how often it says that the early church, and the residents of Jerusalem, we in awe and wonder of what God was doing.

That's what I want for us. I want God to move in such a supernatural way in and through us that we are left in awe and wonder at the greatness of God. I am praying for that. I think you should pray that too.

I'm also asking: Am I doing anything that might be getting in the way? Are you?

Because of what God is doing may someone write Acts 3:10 about us one day: They were filled with wonder and amazement.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I think you're insane

For the past two weeks at Hub City we've been talking about how we can position ourselves for growth. The first week we talked about how growth always requires risk and faith. Yesterday we said that our capacity for growth determines our growth potential. But there's something else that I've been thinking about that's an essential ingredient for growth: Change.

Most everyone has heard the definition of insanity: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping to get different results.

I think if many of us were honest we'd have to admit we must be insane because we do just that: We keep doing the same things over and over again yet we still hope we'll get different results.

But growth never happens apart from change. And while change is hard and uncomfortable and risky it opens the door for growth to be a possibility.

God created you to never stop growing. Change is an essential ingredient for that to happen. 

So, what needs to change in your life in order for you to grow? I'd hate for any of us to continue in our insanity.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Can I have more

Yesterday Hub City transitioned from one to two worship gatherings. I think things went very well. My biggest surprise of the day was how everyone who came to the early gathering was on time. Actually, they were early. That was cool.

In light of this new step in the life of Hub City I want to share an article that I read last week from Rick Warren. It's relevant and shares what it is that I think we need most of all right now.

Why You MUST Develop More Leaders

The Bible says in the early chapters of Acts that God was “adding” to the church daily. Shortly into the life of the Jerusalem church, there arose a conflict between Hellenistic Jews and Hebraic Jews over the care of orphans and widows. The apostles asked for leaders from the church to be pointed out and then they released seven men to oversee a new area of ministry. Suddenly, the terminology changes from God “adding” to the church to the church “multiplying.”
Out of Acts, chapter 6, we can take away at least seven lessons for churches that want to grow by empowering and releasing more leaders.
1. A growing church is a Biblical idea.
It says, “In those days the number of disciples were increasing.” If a church is not growing, it is often because something is unhealthy. Healthy things grow. Unless the community is already saturated and everyone reachable has been reached, a church must diagnose what is breaking down in the leadership development process. We’ve said that if there is one person who doesn’t know Christ, we’re going to keep growing. A growing church is biblical.
2. Church growth causes problems.
Acts 6 says that there were “rumblings of discontent.” That’s true in any church. Sometimes people come to me and say, “Pastor Rick, we’ve really got a problem in this church.” I want to say, “Which one? I’m aware of about a couple hundred. Which one are you talking about?” They say, “You may not recognize this but there’s this need.” Of course we recognize it. We live with it day and night. But leadership development takes time, so there are always holes to be filled in any growing ministry.
3. Problems are always unmet needs.
It says “The Greek speaking Jews claimed their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.” We would like to think that everyone in our church’s membership is together in the priority of seeing more people come to Jesus, but even Christians get distracted when there are unmet needs in their lives – real or imagined. When you experience a leadership problem in your church, it almost always flows out of someone’s unmet need.
4. Pastors cannot do it all.
Their response to this need was, “It wouldn’t be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” It’s a legitimate need but it’s not one that God called us to meet. Spiritual leaders cannot remain spiritual leaders long if they aren’t spending adequate time at the feet of Jesus seeking wisdom, direction, and vision.
5. Spirit-filled believers assist the pastoral staff.
They said, “choose seven men, full of the Holy Spirit and we’ll turn the responsibility over to them.” It’s interesting that if you read these names in Acts 6 – Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus – you find that they are all Greek names. And these men cared deeply about the needs of the Greek believers in the early church.
6. The pastors are to focus on praying and teaching.
He said, “We will give our attention to prayer and teaching of the word.” I once had to make a covenant with Saddleback Church. If the people would take on the work of the ministry, I would make sure they were well fed. That’s been my goal since that time. The ministry of Saddleback outgrew me a long time ago. Obviously I can’t do all the ministry. I can’t even do a fraction of the ministry. But I can make sure that you’re well fed.
7. The result of lay ministry was more growth.
It says, “This proposal pleased the whole group so the word of God increased rapidly (multiplied).” There was mobilization. In many churches, all you’re expected to do is attend and give. But those are really two minor issues related to what God really wants to do in your life. We have allowed our spectator-oriented culture to influence the church.
But God teaches us to mobilize every person for ministry – pastors and staff are to equip all believers for the work of the ministry. We have to mobilize every member for ministry. This is leadership development. And this is essential to fulfilling the Great Commission.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Good Idols

If you are a part of Hub City you need to be in a Hub Group. If you're not you are missing out. I love what happens in Hub Group. This past week we were looking at the really strange story out of Genesis 22 where God tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

We talked about how Isaac had become an idol to Abraham and how God is serious about us having no other God’s before him, and that God has no problem whatsoever asking us to sacrifice those things that get in between us and him, even if those things are important in our lives.
And then Liz said something that is worth sharing. She said that not all idols are bad things. Sometimes an idol can be a good thing, but it’s a good think that’s taken God’s place in our life.
Isaac was a good thing. He was the fulfillment of a promise. He was Abraham's one and only son. But Isaac had become Abraham’s idol.
We left Hub Group committed to asking: What idols do we have in our life? I think it would be good for you to ask the same question as well. Let's not allow the good to get in the way of our great God.

Monday, October 14, 2013


In the five years that Hub City Church has been in existence we've have 746 people attend one of our worship gatherings at least once. 746!

Actually, that's not completely accurate because that only reflects adults that filled out connection cards. So the number is a tad bit greater.

When I saw that I was pretty amazed. God has graced us with the chance to speak into the lives of 746+ people. Tat's a lot of people.

But I think there are more people that God wants us to disciple. There are more people that God wants us to impact.

That's one reason we're moving from one to two worship gatherings this coming Sunday. As the graphic says, the new times are 9 and 10:30. 

I'm pumped about this next step in the life of Hub City and I want all of you to be a part, so be there and bring a friend or two.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What do you think?

What do you think God thinks about when God thinks about you?

That's the question we're going to answer this Sunday as we conclude our Contagious series.

If there's anything that's unmistakably clear as you read through the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament, it's that Jesus was a contagious person. Everyone wanted to be around him. People who were nothing like him liked him and he liked people who were nothing like him. 

Which means, if you were to meet Jesus, he would like you. And you would like him. 

Which is why, even if you don't like church, you need to be at Hub City this Sunday at 10 AM so that you can discover what God thinks about when God thinks about you.

See you there.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Obedience - The "why" behind the "what"

If you want to know the main reason we’re moving from one to two worship gatherings it is because this is something that God wants us to do.

What’s funny is that this isn’t necessarily what I personally wanted to do. Just like planting Hub City five years ago wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wanted to do anything other than plant another church. But if I’ve learned one thing in following Jesus for the past 34 years it’s that obedience should trump desire and feelings 100% of the time.

Moving from one worship gathering to two worship gatherings is an issue of obedience.

We say all the time that we want you to hear from God and do what he says. That’s the exact reason we’re moving from one worship gathering to two worship gatherings. 

See, Hub City Church is Jesus' church. It's not my church. It's not your church. It's not our church. It's Jesus' church. He calls the shots. And while we don't always get the execution right, we're always trying to make sure we're in step with what God is telling us to do. 

That should be the goal of your life as well. Obedience always opens the door for blessing. Honor God and he will honor you.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Space - The "why" behind the "what"

I don’t know if you realize this or not, but there’s just something about Americans and space. Not outer-space, but personal-space. We like our personal space. Which means we don’t like to sit close to people.

That’s why sociologists and people who study crowds have come up with the 70% rule. The 70% rule says that when a room is 70% full it is perceived to be 100% full, even though there are empty seats.

Here's how the rule impacts us: The theater we meet in for worship is a unique environment in that not all of the seats are usable seats. So, of our usable seats, we’ve been bumping up against the 70% rule for the past six months.

All of this means that we need to create more space. We can’t bring more seats into the theater, but we can start a second worship gathering. And that’s what we’re doing on October 20th. We’re moving from one to two because two are better than one.

I have to say one more thing because this space issue is something that we’ll bump up again in the future and you can do a few things to help us make the most of the space with have. If you’re a part of the Hub City family you can help us maximize our usable rows by doing these three things. First, scoot to the center of the theater. Second, fill in the empty seats. Third, sit in the HD section, down front. Doing these things will open up seats for guests.

I believe that as we create space we give God the opportunity to fill that space. And this is another “why” behind the “what.”

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The "why" behind the "what" - Options

The Big News is that Hub City is moving from one worship gathering to two worship gatherings. This week I'm giving you a glimpse of the "why" behind the "what."

One of the reasons we are making this change is to give people options. Everybody loves options. Some people like to get things done early in the morning so they can have the rest of the day to play. Others would rather sleep in and prefer a later time. 

I know a few people who would love to be a part of the Hub City worship gathering, but because of their work schedule they’ve been unable to participate. That all changes with a 9 AM worship time. They can come to the earlier gathering and still make it to work on time.

Options are good. And now we have two options that people can choose from to be a part of a Hub City worship gathering. 

Come back tomorrow and I'll talk about the space dilemma. 

Monday, October 07, 2013

The "why" behind the "what"

Yesterday I made an big announcement at Hub City's worship gathering. Starting October 20th, we're moving from one worship gathering to two worship gatherings. 

We are excited about this next step in the life of Hub City.

This week I'll be posting some reasons that will help explain the "why" behind the "what." 

We think that two are better than one. Check back all week to find out why.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why I love Movies in the Park

I love Movies in the Park. I love that Hub City Church can serve Spartanburg with no-strings-attached. I love that so many businesses want to be a part of this event. I love that Coca-Cola of Spartanburg puts this graphic on the back of one of its delivery trucks. I love that we get to do something that the city of Spartanburg wanted to do, but didn't have the money to do. I love it when people clap at the end of the movie. I love giving away popcorn and soda for free. I love giving away gift certificates to local businesses. I love how the church phone rings more the week before Movies in the Park than at any other time during the year. I love that this is such a diverse event. I love getting stopped when out and about and quizzed on when the movie starts and what we'll be showing.

Movies in the Park 2013 begins this Saturday, May 18. We're showing Madagascar 3. It's free. The movie will begin around 8:35. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Two Things I Forgot To Say

I really had a lot of fun hosting/facilitating Hub City's first ever Baby/Child dedication yesterday. It was awesome having so many family members there to support their relatives. 

But there were two things that I wanted to say but forgot:

  1. The best gift that parents can give their kids is a healthy marriage. Your spouse should always come first. You'll be with your spouse long after your kids are grown. A healthy marriage promotes security and sets an example for your kids. 
  2. The best parents are teachable. I meet so many parents who are utterly unteachable. That's just another form of pride and you won't get where you want to go or have the kids you are hoping to have if you aren't teachable. Find some parents that are further down the road than you and pick their brains.
There, I said it. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

We don't want to hear from God

Here’s an excerpt from Vince's new book,
Renegade: Your Faith Isn’t Meant To Be Safe.
Ask pastors what questions they receive most, and “How do I hear God’s voice?” will be near the top of the list. It’s a good question, because deriving direction from God, getting his guidance, receiving a word from the Lord is critical if we’re going to do what he wants us to do. But why is it so difficult? Let me suggest that often times we don’t really want to hear from God. We think we do, but we don’t. And one of the things that keeps us from living the renegade life is only listening when God tells us something we want to hear. Think about this: Where in the Bible do we see someone who is glad to hear God’s voice and get his direction? Where in the Bible is someone told something they want to hear? Just about never.
To read more, you can purchase Renegade here.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Never Been Done Before

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day. (Stop what you're doing write now and go buy your mom a card). Well, since it's Mother's Day we're going to do something we've never done at Hub City before. We're going to have our first ever baby/child dedication.

I'm excited about this because it give us an opportunity to remind everyone that church is a family. And because we're family we're all in this together. 

What that means is that it's the church's job to partner with parents to help them disciple their kids. 

God never intended for us to be alone in our parenting. The church family should be a partner to parents. We all need help. I know I do.

This past week has been a trying one around the Everette home. Parenting is hard. Yesterday was an especially tough day. But at Hub Group last night someone said something to Liz and I that was so encouraging and helpful. 

That's how it should be. That's what we're going to remind ourselves of this coming Sunday.

PS. If you have a baby/child and would like to participate please let me know soon! I promise not to make you give a speech. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Life Plan for Renegade Christians

Vince Antonucci wrote a companion to his book, Renegade, that you may want to pick up. It's 99 cents on Kindle right now. It's be a great addition/help to go along with our current series. You can get the book here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

One reason we meet in a movie theater

You helped make this happen

I am so grateful that Hub City Church in Spartanburg gets to partner with Alex's House Orphanage in Haiti. It has truly been a gamechanger for our church.

I want everyone who's ever given financially to Hub City to know that your financial gifts helped make this happen: New Water Filtration System Installed!

That makes me happy. 

Our next trip to Haiti is August 3-10. Only five spots remain available. Ask God if he wants you to go. If he says yes, then don't wait to register. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Parallel Tracks

One thing I've been reminded of lately is that life runs on a series of parallel tracks. One set of tracks is the really good stuff that's happening. The other set of tracks includes problems and other bad stuff.

If your like me, then you tend to lean towards the track with all the problems and bad stuff. It steals your attention. It robs you of your joy. It can consume you.

If this is you then it's possible to go through life paralyzed by all the bad stuff and never moving forward because you're always putting out fires.

However, if you are one of those rare people who only focuses on the good and ignores the bad then you'll never improve.

But I think that life was meant to be lived in the tension between the two. We need to celebrate the good while at the same time addressing the bad. I'm constantly learning how to do this.

Not sure if this helps anyone but it's been on my mind a lot the past few days.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The right retirement plan

I think Caleb had the right idea for retirement:
A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lordmy God. So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’
10 “Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 12 So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”
13 So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as his portion of land. - Joshua 14

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boldness vs. Boldless

There's this incredible scene in Acts 4 with Peter and John. They had been arrested and harassed for preaching about Jesus and healing a lame man. After their release from prison they met with the other disciples and prayed. Here's their prayer:
And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus. Acts 4:29-30
Notice what they prayed for. First they prayed for boldness in preaching God's word. Second they prayed for more power from God to do miracles. In other words, they prayed for the exact same things that got them in trouble in the first place.

That is the exact opposite of what we do, isn't it? We pray for protection. We pray for an easy life. We pray for our needs and wants to be met. But we don't pray for trouble. We don't pray for boldness.

Our prayers are almost the complete opposite of the prayer we read Peter praying in Acts 4.

That's why I think most of us, myself included, are pretty boldless. 

It's time for a change. What we need isn't protection. What we need is boldness. What we need is for God to do things in and through us that might get us into trouble with the powers that be.

So here's my request: Would you join with me in praying for boldness? 

Mark Batterson says that God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.

In the book of Joshua we find an example of one of the boldest prayers in the Bible. Joshua prayed that God would cause the sun to stand still so that the Israelites could finish wiping out their enemies. God answered Joshua's bold prayer.

So, in addition to praying for boldness, would you join with me in praying some bold prayers? 

If people ever write something about me I don't want them to say that I was boldless. I'd rather they not say that about you either. 

God, give us boldness in proclaiming your Word and, because of your power at work in and through us, do the miraculous, all so that people will know the way, the truth and the life: Jesus.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When does it start?

As I was getting ready to leave the gym yesterday someone came up to me and asked, "When's the first Movies in the Park?"

It always freaks me out a bit when someone asks me out of the blue about Movies in the Park. But it's cool that Hub City is known around town for this no-strings-attached gift to our community.

I should have confirmation by the end of this week about what movies we'll be showing in 2013. But go ahead and put the dates on your calendar. And keep checking for all the details.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The problem is us

This morning at the gym I was transfixed on the follow up news coverage of the tragedy in Boston. Facebook and Twitter are filled with "Praying for Boston" posts and hastags. Yesterday's events are on all of our minds. 

As I type this the's headline is: Boston Bombing--All out effort to find out who did it, and why.

That's what all of us want to know: Who's responsible and why would they do something so heinous? 

Meanwhile, as our country processes the Boston tragedy Congress is debating gun control. 

Why are they discussing gun control? To prevent tragedies. But as we saw yesterday, tragedies happen with or without guns. 

See, the problem isn't guns, knives, or bombs. The problem is us. People. You. Me.

We are the problem because we are sinful. Some of us are so sinful that we're evil. But all of us could eventually make it to that place. You say you couldn't but so did the Germans who gave into Hitler's propaganda. We're all just a few steps away from evil.

And what's amazing to me is that God knows this, but instead of letting natural selection run its course (where we all end up killing ourselves, which is what I would do if I were God) he intervened. He stepped into the mess when he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, who died, was buried and rose again.

Times like these remind me that we all need Jesus because the problem is us. And Jesus is the solution. Lord Jesus, help us. The problem is us.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Not religion

Yesterday we began a series called Renegade at Hub City Church. I've been a bit overwhelmed at the response to the message. Since it was so meaningful to so many I wanted to highlight the main point.

Christianity is not a religion. It's about a relationship with God that is defined by faith.

  • People like religion because it is safe and predictable. But a relationship with God is anything but safe and predictable. 
  • A relationship with God leads us to a renegade life where we throw off conventional behavior and abandon our religious approaches to God.
  • God is inviting you and I to abandon our religion and pursue a relationship with him.

Memorize Hebrews 11:6 - It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sadness and Madness - Beth Moore

Every once in a while I come across an article that I think every member of the body of Christ needs to read. Below is one of those articles. I am grateful to Beth Moore for writing this.

Saturday shortly after noon, I filled up the dog bowl on the back porch with water and pitched dishes in the dishwasher so that I could head out with Melissa for a bite to eat and maybe a little shoe shopping. She’d spent the night with Keith and me in the country and we’d had a lazy Saturday morning over coffee and conversation. I’d set out my purse and keys and decided to wipe down the kitchen counter before we walked out the door. Just as I sprayed the cleaner and grabbed the dishtowel, Melissa walked in staring at the screen of her phone with the oddest expression.
“Mom, I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’m seeing references on Twitter to Rick and Kay Warren losing a son.”
She was ashen. My stomach flipped and, over the next few minutes as she read to me bits and pieces of breaking news, we feared the worst. I felt a hot sickness in my throat. My relationship with the Warrens is the same as most of yours. I have simply been served and led well by them. Although I had the joy of ministering to women on the Saddleback campus some years ago, my stay was brief and our schedules were wrapped entirely around the event. I have not had the opportunity to get to know the Warrens in the way that personal friends know one another but I always knew in my heart that I’d like them so much. We’re similar ages and in similar seasons with our families. Meanwhile, I have  loved them and esteemed them in Christ as faithful and mighty servants of the living Lord Jesus Christ. And quite possibly, among the mightiest to ever serve this generation.
Within an hour of Melissa walking into the kitchen with those first pieces of news, someone very close to the Warren family confirmed the tragedy on Twitter. We were heartsick and not for media personalities or even public servants. We were heartsick for a family of real people with breakable hearts. And we wept. Many of you undoubtedly did as well.
An odd mix of feelings overtook me with increasing force through the afternoon and into the early evening. The sadder I got, the madder I got. Mad at an astonishing satanic force that stoops viciously and swoops in unscrupulously to attack children and to prey on their weaknesses as they grow up, shooting so relentlessly at one spot that they can barely get to their feet between arrows. I’ve been that child and many of you have, too. Madder still that the devil in all likelihood delights in nothing more than targeting the children and dearest loved ones of true servants of God. Nothing tries our faith like the suffering of our children. At the end of the day, our faith is what the devil is after most. Without it, it’s impossible to please God. This is why Paul could say with relief nearly palpable on the page of his final letter, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race.I have kept the faith.
We’ll all finally make it to our finish lines but the cliffhanger along the way will be this: will we keep our faith? That isn’t the same thing as keeping our salvation. I don’t believe my salvation is something I can give back. I received it by grace through faith from Christ Himself and my works don’t secure it no matter how my woes obscure it. His grip never loosens. Nothing can snatch us out of our Father’s hand. What’s at risk is our active belief in who God says He is, what He says He is like, and what He says He can do.
Is He good? Is He faithful?So the enemy sets out to knock the feet of our faith out from under our walk. And there is nothing more effective toward that end than targeting the ones we love most on this planet.
I don’t say that to scare you. I say it because I believe it is the hair-raising truth. No, we are not abandoned here as victims on this damaged sod. We are not abandoned at all. Our God is with us. The Spirit of His Son is in us. We are more than conquerors through the One who loves us. We are not at the mercy of Satan. We are at the glorious, life-breathing mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, a mercy that leads, as Jude 21 says, to eternal life and will ultimately spill like a river into a sea of reality where no sufferings of our past will compare with the glory of our present. In the meantime, greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world but make no mistake. This is a vicious world we’ve been left to serve. One God still loves or we would not still be here.
And then, in that mixture of emotions Saturday afternoon, I got madder and madder at the bullies in the Body of Christ. I thought how much it turns out that the Warrens have been through personally and, if they are like most leaders, all the while putting out fires and putting up with a bunch of trash-talk from people who would call the same Jesus Lord.
God help us. In the words of James, These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.I don’t believe one of us here in this community thinks that leaders should be immune to questions, constructive criticism, and accountability.  That’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about here. I’m talking about bullying. There are Scriptural means for going to a brother or sister to reason with them about matters we genuinely consider to be off base, misleading, or in error. You and I both know that much of what happens out there in public forums is the furthest thing from biblical.
It is slander.
I went on a walk through the woods Saturday late afternoon and did something I don’t often do. I cried angry tears. I got so mad that I could have hit somebody. I kept thinking how believers attack one another and sling stones at each other like the other can’t bruise or break. And all the while that person may be in so much personal pain that it’s nearly unbearable. I’m not transferring this to the Warrens. I do not know them personally. I’m telling you what I know to be true about most people out there. Most of us are in significant pain of some kind. That doesn’t mean defeat necessarily. It just means pain.
Life is hard enough without hatefulness rife in the Body of Christ. We are called to carry one another’s burdens, not pile relentlessly on top of them. We can still hold one another accountable. We can still ask questions. We can still disagree. But we can do it with respect.
I’m sick of the bullying. The mud-slinging and the meanness. I’m sick of careless, idle words thrown out there in the public square and professing believers in Christ standing on the necks of their own brothers and sisters to sound smart and superior. As if it’s not enough that we are surrounded in this culture by Christian haters, we’ve got to have our own hater-Christians. It’s insane.
When we turn people into caricatures, everything’s game. The moment we depersonalize them, our consciences harden and we can mock and slander at will and have a blast doing it. Snide blogs and tweets and Facebook posts about various leaders can also be effective ways to jump in their spotlight. Bullies aren’t just mean. They’re self-serving. They’re platform-hunting. They have to borrow one to perform.
No, I don’t think that saying all of this will change it much but some things still need to be said. Sometimes we need to speak up and call something wrong. There’s a bigger issue in the Body of Christ than immorality. It’s hatefulness. If the greatest priority Christ assigned to us was love, the gravest offender is hate.
Just about the time cynicism threatens to overwhelm us and turn us into the very people we can’t stand, genuine love – the real thing – erupts right here on this earth like concrete breaking open to a spring. Compassion and tremendous affection are pouring forth from the Body of Christ for the Warrens right now. It is right and it is lovely. We have been served well by them and have learned so much from them. To respond with expressions of love, comfort, and intercession is our honor and privilege. We must and we will.
But even now at the hardest moment of their lives the Warrens can teach something vital if we are willing to learn. Their heartbreak demonstrates what has always been true but has never been more profoundly overlooked: these who serve us publicly also suffer privately. They are not caricatures. They are not just personalities. They are people living on a painful planet with the rest of us.
The Warrens will come forth like gold. The enemy will not win. They will fight the good fight. They will finish the race. They will keep the faith.
I love the Body of Christ. I don’t want want to get cynical. I don’t want to sit around and hate the haters or I become one. But this morning I just want to say this. We can love each other better. Let’s do. People have enough hurt. Let’s be careful with one another.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


We're starting a new series on Sunday: Renegade - Your faith isn't meant to be safe.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


This is too good not to share.
Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7a GW)

Surrendering your life means:
- Following God’s lead without knowing where he’s sending you.
- Waiting for God’s timing without knowing when it will come.
- Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide.
- Trusting God’s purpose without understanding the circumstances.

You know you’re surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don’t have to always be "in charge." Instead of trying harder, you trust more.

You also know you’re surrendered when you don’t react to criticism and rush to defend yourself.

Surrendered hearts show up best in relationships. You are not self-serving, you don’t edge others out, and you don’t demand your rights.

The most difficult thing to surrender for many people is their money. Many have thought, "I want to live for God, but I also want to earn enough money to live comfortably and retire someday."

Retirement is not the goal of a surrendered life because it competes with God for the primary attention of our lives. Jesus said, "You cannot serve both God and money," and "Wherever your treasure is, your heart will be also."

The supreme example of self-surrender is Jesus. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus surrendered himself to God’s plan. He prayed, "Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”

Jesus didn’t pray, "God, if you’re able to take away this pain, please do so." He began by affirming that God can do anything! He prayed, "God, if it is in your best interest to remove this suffering, please do so. But if it fulfills your purpose, that’s what I want, too."

Genuine surrender says, “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose and glory in my life or in another’s life, please don’t take it away!"

This level of maturity doesn’t come easily. In Jesus’ case, he agonized so much over God’s plan that he sweated drops of blood. Surrender is hard work. In our case, it requires intense warfare against our self-centered nature.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adding to the noise

What percentage of your day is noiseless?

Let me ask it another way: How much noiseless time to you allow in your day?

I am afraid that the constant noise of radio, music, TV, and talk radio is doing catastrophic damage to our souls. Add to that the constant stimulation of smart phones, apps, Internet, Facebook, email, Twitter and all the other stuff that stimulates our visual cortex and you have a recipe for soul disaster.

Our souls need quiet and solitude. 

When is there any quiet and solitude in your life?

You need to schedule it. Fight for it. Sacrifice things for it. Instead of adding to the noise, turn it off.

Your soul will thank you. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Bible Will Always Survive

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35 NIV)

The Bible is the most despised, derided, denied, disputed, dissected, and debated book in all of history. This Bible has been under attack for centuries — for everything you can imagine.

Yet the Bible is still the most read, most published, and most translated book in the world. And, most importantly, it’s still changing the lives of those who apply what it teaches.

One of the reasons I believe the Bible is God’s Word is that it has survived so many attacks throughout history.

Despite all the attacks throughout history, today the Bible is the greatest single source of culture. It’s the greatest single source for music, art, and architecture. If you take the Bible out of culture, you would destroy most of the major music, artwork, and architecture of the past 2,000 years. Even much of our English language comes from the King James Bible.

The Bible has flourished in spite of unrelenting attacks during the past 2,000 years.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (NIV). The only item on the planet that will last is the Word of God. Everything else will burn up, because truth is eternal.

Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, was a brilliant atheist. He wrote a number of tracts deriding the Bible. He once made a very bold statement: “One hundred years from today the Bible will be a forgotten book.”

Today, everyone has forgotten that quote — not the Bible! After Voltaire died, for nearly 100 years, his homestead was used as the book depository for the French Bible Society. They sold Bibles out of his house! It’s now a museum. People have forgotten Voltaire. Nobody forgets the Bible.

No matter what attacks come the Bible’s way, it always survives — and it always will. You can depend on that.