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.