Thursday, January 30, 2014

Embracing Uncertainty

One day Jesus was approached by a wanna-be-follower and the following interaction took place.

19 Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”20 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

In other words, Jesus was saying: Dude, I'm not even sure where I'm staying tonight. Are you sure you want to follow me?

This reminds of of something that we rarely talk about: Living by faith and circumstantial uncertainty go hand in hand.

That's why this coming Sunday at Hub City we're going to talk about embracing uncertainty. 

The problem for all of us is we want certainty. We orchestrate every part of our lives to maximize certainty. But certainty and living by faith are polar-opposites. 

We'll see you Sunday at Hub City. 9 or 10:30, at Spartan 16 Movie Theater.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow day thoughts

Today's a snow day here in Spartanburg, SC. Schools are closed. Why? We got a whopping half inch of snow. It's kind of funny if you think about it, but after reading about what went on in Atlanta and Alabama yesterday I'd rather the districts be safe than sorry. Besides, as I was driving to the office this morning, all the maniacs driving too fast for the icy conditions makes me glad my kids didn't have to be in the car. (I'm such a bad person because I find myself hoping that they will crash because of their reckless driving.)

But back to the snow. I love to watch it snow. Yesterday, as the snow started to fall, I sat at my desk and watched it start to accumulate on the mulch and was reminded of something the prophet Isaiah said:
“Come now, let’s settle this,”    says the Lord.“Though your sins are like scarlet,    I will make them as white as snow.Though they are red like crimson,    I will make them as white as wool.                          - Isaiah 1:18
That is a really cool promise from God. I think about it every time it snows. We have a God who is willing to forgive us and take our scarlet sins and wash them white as snow.

Confession is a habit that I started a long time ago. Isaiah 1:18 and John 1:9 are reasons why. Let today's snowmeggedon remind you of God's forgiveness. And let the availability of forgiveness lead you to develop the habit of confession.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Highly Happy Marriages review

I have read a bunch of marriage books over the years. Some good. Some so-so. I always learn something, but I think The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, by Shaunti Feldhan, is the most practical and easy to read marriage book I have ever read.

Basically, it's a book about the little things that can make a big difference between a mediocre marriage and a highly happy one. And these aren't little things that are impossible for normal people to do. They are little things that normal people are doing which are making a huge difference. Which means you and I can do them and improve our marriages.

If you're married, would you say that one of your desires is to have a better marriage? I think that's true of almost all married people. Well, if that's true, and you could read one book this year that could help make that happen, would you take the time to read it? It would be foolish not to. 

One thing I want for you is for you to have a great marriage. But we all know that great marriages don't just happen. They take time, work, and intentionality. Reading and applying Shaunti's book would be a great investment of your time.

Click on over and download or order a copy today. To get you started you can read chapter 1 here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review, but it's so good I would have paid for it. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Do you trust me?

Yesterday at Hub City we talked about Overcoming Adversity. The message will be online later this week if you want to hear it, but one thing that jumped out at me as I thought about overcoming adversity is that it really is an issue of trust.

Do I trust my circumstances and my ability to manipulate and control and figure out what to do to get out of my adversity? Or, do I trust God?

If there's one thing God has said to me more than any other it's this: Do you trust me?

Faith is all about trust. Following Jesus is all about trust. Being a Christian in 2014 is all about trust.

But most of us, if we're honest, have a really hard time trusting God. We look at our budget and think, There's no way we can tithe and pay all our bills. We look at our relational problems and think, The only way I see to fix things is to get out. We look at all our spinning plates that are about to crash to the ground and think, If I could just get control of my life.

All of those thoughts take trust out of the equation. 

But God says for us to trust him. Trust that he is who he says he is. Trust that he's going to do what he's promised to do. Trust that's demonstrated by obedience.

I love the Charles Stanley quote, Obey God and leave all the consequences up to him.

Do you trust God enough to do what he says? Do you trust God when your little mind can't figure everything out? Do you trust him? It really is central to overcoming adversity.

Friday, January 24, 2014

What forgiveness really is

The whole issue of forgiveness is immensely important, yet at the same time is greatly misunderstood. I love what Rick Warren said about what forgiveness really is.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 (NIV)

Forgiveness may be the most misused, misapplied, and misunderstood quality in our culture. We think we know what forgiveness is all about, but we really don’t. Before reading further, take a minute to do this little quiz by deciding if each statement is true or false.
  1. A person should not be forgiven until he asks for it.
  2. Forgiving includes minimizing the offense and the pain caused.
  3. Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
  4. You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense.
  5. When you see somebody hurt, it is your duty to forgive the offender.
When you read the Bible and see what God has to say about forgiveness, you discover that all five of those statements are false. How did you do?

We’re going to spend the next few days looking at what forgiveness really is, because most people don’t understand forgiveness.

First, real forgiveness is unconditional. There’s no attachment to it. You don’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You don’t bargain for it. Forgiveness is not based on a promise to never do it again. You offer it to somebody whether they ask for it or not.

When Jesus stretched out his hands on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” nobody had asked for it (Luke 23:34 NIV). Nobody had said,“Please forgive me, Jesus, for what they’re doing to you.” He just offered it. He took the initiative.

Second, forgiveness isn’t minimizing the seriousness of the offense. When somebody asks for your forgiveness and you say, “It’s no big deal. It really didn’t hurt,” that actually cheapens forgiveness. If it wasn’t a big deal, you don’t need forgiveness and you don’t need to offer it.
Forgiveness is only for the big stuff. You don’t use it for slights that are just minor issues. If something really requires forgiveness, then you should not minimize it when somebody asks you for forgiveness. You shouldn’t say it wasn’t a big deal. It was a big deal! If it wasn’t a big deal, just say, “You don’t need to ask forgiveness.” But if it is a big deal, then you need to admit it.

There are a lot of big deals in life. Have you noticed that? But there is a difference in being wounded and being wronged. Being wounded requires patience and acceptance, not forgiveness, because the person did it unintentionally. Being wronged requires forgiveness.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Your plan vs. reality

Since we all know this is true we need to learn how to overcome adversity. Find out how this Sunday at Hub City Church. (Thanks for my father-in-law for emailing me this image).

Overcoming Adversity

I heard a great story the other day told by Mark Batterson. I have made an effort to verify the veracity of the following story, but have had a bit of trouble determining if it really happened. True or not, it is a great story that sets up what we’re going to talk about on Sunday.
In December of 1944 American forces were completely surrounded in Bastogne, Belgium. The situation looked hopeless. It was freezing cold. The troops were low on supplies and probably low on morale. And the German commander sent a message to the American general, general McAuliffe, demanding an immediate surrender. So General McAuliffe assembled his troops and said, “Men, we are surrounded by the enemy. We have the greatest opportunity ever presented an army. We can attack in any direction.” Instead of surrendering, American forces chose to fight and won the battle of the bulge, and their stand is credited as one of the turning points in WWII. None of the external circumstances changed. The only thing that changed was their perspective. Instead of being surrounded by adversity. They realized they were surrounded by opportunity.
Life is filled with adversity. Lion Chasers don’t let adversity keep them from doing what God has called them to do and becoming the people that God has called them to be because they know that adversity is what God uses to make us into people that he can use.

The key to overcoming adversity is changing your perspective. As Qui-Gon Jinn, says in Star Wars Episode 1: Your focus determines your reality.

Join us this Sunday at Hub City Church for a change of focus and a change of perspective about adversity. See you at 9 or 10:30.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just read it

I know something about you. You don't believe everything you read. The reason I know that is because I know you read the headlines of the National Enquirer while you're checking out at Publix. Some of you are audacious enough that you not only read the headlines, but you actually pick the magazine up off the rack and flip through it. It's an embarrassment, really.

Why do you do this? Because it's there? Because you're bored? Because you really do what to know who Kanye West is having an affair with?

Whatever your reason, what I know is that you really don't believe what you're reading, but you read it anyway.

When it comes to the Bible, one thing I've heard people who aren't Christians say is, "The reason I don't read it is because I don't believe it's true."

But as we saw with the National Enquirer, believing isn't a litmus test for reading. So why use it as an excuse for not reading the Bible?

I believe that you owe it to yourself to read the Bible. You don't have to believe it. Just read it.

Now, I will admit that I really do believe the Bible. I believe it's true. But I'm not saying you have to believe what I believe. What I'm saying is that you owe it to yourself to read it.

If you've never read the Bible then I'd love to help you know how and where to start. Don't read it like you would read a John Grisham novel, from beginning to end. The Bible wasn't organized to be read that way. It's actually a collection of 66 different books written by over 40 authors over a 1500 year period. As a result, it can get confusing. So shoot me a message and I'll help you out.

I believe that the best habit you could ever develop is the habit of reading the Bible on a daily basis. And I dare you to try it out, even if you don't believe it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I learned something new

This August, Liz and I will celebrate 18 years of marriage. I came to the realization the other day that I've known her for longer than I've not known her. That was a cool thought.

But then Saturday happened. I learned something about Liz that I've never known before.

We were kid-free this weekend. The boys got to have fun with their grandparents in Augusta and Liz and I got to have fun with each other. So we went to Greenville.

Our goal was to purchase something yummy at Whole Foods to cook for supper, but before we went to Whole Foods Liz wanted to stop by Ulta.

Do you know what Ulta is? I had no idea that a place like this existed, but basically, it's a makeup superstore. As the non-makeup-wearing adult in our family I was not only unaware of the existence of such a place, but was also unaware that I was married to someone who absolutely loves this kind of place and could spend hours and hours in said place.

I know Liz wears makeup (even though I think she's beautiful with or without it). What I didn't know is how excited she could get about just looking at all the makeup. She was like a kid in a candy store.

Why am I writing this? Well, it doesn't matter how long you've been married. You still have more to learn about your spouse. 

Not that I want to ever visit Ulta again, but I love learning new things about Liz. Marriage should be an adventure of continual discovery. May that be true for all my married friends and may that be a goal for all those who want to one day get married.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Want a happy marriage?

Like I mentioned last week, I'm reading The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn. If you are married you need to read this book. It's easy to read and enormously practical. You won't regret it.

Today I read that highly happy couples tend to put God at the center of their marriage and focus on him, rather than on their marriage or spouse, for fulfillment and happiness.

This is such a profound truth. There is only one who will always be there for you and never let you down: Jesus. 

Shaunti shared six practical things that highly happy couples do as it relates to putting God at the center of their marriages. You can do these too.

  1. They worship together regularly. Regularly means more than once a month. It means weekly.
  2. They are plugged into a faith community. They don't just attend church together. They serve. They are involved in a small group.
  3. They share key values.
  4. They focus on serving their spouses, rather than on being served. In marriage you have the privilege of serving your spouse for the rest of their life, not getting your own needs met for the rest of your life.
  5. They look to God for the power to be selfless--because it doesn't come naturally.
  6. Ultimately, they trust God for the outcome. We are told throughout the Bible to trust God first and foremost.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Preventing regret

This is a depressing thought: I think many of us are going to get to the end of our lives and have a ton of regret. 

We'll regret chances we didn't take, relationships we didn't pursue, forgiveness we didn't offer, experiences we let pass us by... the list could go on and on and on. There are so many potential regrets.

But we don't have to get to the end of our lives and have regret. We can live in such a way that we "regret-proof" our lives. 

There are a number of ways to do this: 

  • We need to live wisely.
  • We need to follow Jesus obediently.
  • We need to forgive freely.
  • We need to fight for relationships.
  • We need to face our fears.
What are you doing now to regret-proof your life? 

Here's what I think: If there is one thing that you know you need to do but you've been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off. Start there. Stop putting it off because it's the key to putting you on a path of regret-free living. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Facing your Fears

Last Sunday at Hub City we were introduced to a literal lion chaser by the name of Benaiah. He’s a guy who defied the odds, chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day and killed it.

This week we’re going to continue with our Lion Chaser series by talking about fear. Fear is something that every person with skin on deals with. None of us are immune to fear. It’s an ever-present part of life.

But we’re going to discover a few things about fear this coming Sunday. We’ll learn that our fears are learned, which means they can be unlearned. We’ll see how fear comes from our Enemy and not from God. And we’ll be challenged with this main thought: Lion Chasers don’t run away from things that scare them.

I want Hub City to be a church of Lion Chaser and that means we’re going to have to stare fear in the face and chase it down.

See you Sunday at 9 or 10:30. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Believing the Best

I am reading a fantastic little book called The Surprising Secrets of highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn. I’ll review the entire book when I finish, but yesterday, one of the secrets I was introduced to was: When highly happy spouses are legitimately hurt, they refuse to believe that their mate intended to hurt them, and they look for the most generous explanation instead.

In other words, they always believe the best about the other person. They don’t feel like the other person is out to get them, even if they are arguing or disagreeing or if one person has done something to hurt the other person.

This is a profound idea that has ramifications, not only for our marriages, but for all of our relationships.

How often, when someone upsets us or makes us mad, do we assume the worst? Almost all the time!

But what if, instead of assuming the worst, what if we were to believe the best? What if we were to believe that the other person isn’t trying to ruin our lives and hut us?

Wouldn’t that change everything? I think this idea could transform all of our conflict, at work, at home, at church, on the highway.

So consider this a challenge. Believe the best about people. In all probability they aren’t out to get you. Make the choice to assume the best and come up with a generous explanation instead of a negative one.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fading West

You can thank me later, but first you need to download Switchfoot's new album, Fading West

Not only are these good songs, they are saying some good things, some things that all of us need to hear. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Some thoughts on sin

I’ve been thinking about sin a lot the past few weeks. That’s weird, I know, but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts in bullet form.
  • Sin takes us down a path that leads away from God.
  • Sin steals our joy.
  • Sin causes us to disconnect from the people who care about us the most.
  • Sin promises more than it can deliver.
  • This Quote from A.W. Tozer: “A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man's greatest tragedy and God's heaviest grief.”
  • Sin leads to regret, but oftentimes this regret doesn’t show up till later.
  • Sin enslaves us.

That’s why we need to confess our sin. 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sin that God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleans us from all unrighteousness. No sin is too great that it can’t be forgiven.

It’s not to late to repent, turn around and change directions, but one day it might be. You don’t want to get to that place.

Finally, you can’t conquer your sin on your own. You need someone who can love you, pray for you and ask you the tough questions. It’s interesting that James 5:16 says that when we sin we need to confess our sins to one another so that we will be healed. Forgiveness comes from God, but healing from our sin and its impact in our lives comes from confessing it to other people.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Your prayers matter

I got an email the other day from Matt Crosland. Matt and his family are Wycliffe Missionaries in Papua New Guinea. In spite of the fact that he’s a Gamecock fan, Matt is a really cool guy with a neat family.

I am pretty sure it’s tough being missionaries in Papua New Guinea. Adventurous? Yes. Tough. You bet. While on the field this past year they’ve faced one challenge after another. Frankly, most of us would have packed up and gone home if we’d faced what they’ve faced. And then to top it all off, last week they found out they had been robbed. And then two days later they were robbed again.

There’s not much I can do sitting in my office thousands of miles away from the Crosland’s except to pray, so I shot Matt an email just to let him know of my prayers. He responded a day later with this: I can’t tell you how important it is for us to have people praying for us. We truly believe that it effects what happens here.

A lot of times we’re tempted to think that our prayers don’t matter. But they do. That’s why James, the brother of Jesus, writes: The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.

Your prayers matter. Make prayer a habit. I know that you have so much on your plate, but you’re not too busy to pray. Pray for Matt, Tiffany, and their 6 kids (with another on the way).  Pray for your church. Pray for your family. Pray often and about everything. Your prayers matter. 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Some shocking news

Instead of posting a screen shot of the temperature outside and complaining about the cold, I am choosing to share another reason why I dislike winter.

Static Electricity.

Yes. You read that right. Static Electricity.

Every winter my body becomes a mobile power plant. I am confident that if Duke Energy could harness the static electricity produced by my body alone that we could power the states of South Carolina, Georgia and half of Florida. 

It's shocking, I know.

This reason alone is justification for a move to some warm Caribbean island.

If only there was a solution to my electrifying problem. I've tried rubbing down my clothes and jackets with dryer sheets, humidifiers, copious amounts of lotion...all to no avail. 

Anyone out there who can help a brother out? I would be eternally grateful. But I probably won't shake your hand because I'd probably shock you.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Let Hope In

Someone mysteriously mailed me a copy of Pete Wilson's new book, Let Hope In, right before Christmas. Whoever you are: Thank You. It was a great book.

The book is all about putting the past in the past. Most of us live in a way where our present and our future are determined by our past. In other words, our past isn't our past. It's still our present. And as a result, there's a blockade between who we are and who we could be.  

But while our past should shape us it should not determine our present and future. 

If you're still letting the past control your present then I encourage you to check out this book. I think it's $2.99 on kindle right now, which is a fantastic price.

Monday, January 06, 2014

From the Secret Life of Walter Mitty to Lion Chasers

Yesterday, the Hub City Church family, and my family, stayed after our worship gathering to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

I have no idea why this movie hasn't done well at the box office. It is fantastic. Maybe we Americans have too short of an attention span. I don't know. But it's a movie worth seeing. And it's worth seeing because most of us are just like Walter.

As a kid Walter had dreams. He was going to backpack across Europe. He was "rad" on the ole skateboard. He was going to be something and do something.

Then his dad died, he had to get a job at Papa John's, and he quit living. He just went through the motions of his job as a negative account manager (he cataloged and processed film negatives for Life Magazine).

The only real living Walter did was in his fantasmic daydreams. 

Then everything changed. He lost a negative (for you young whipper-snappers, this is the thingy that comes out of a camera that you develop into a picture). In order to find this lost negative, number 25, he took off to Greenland, then to Iceland (via a short swim in the frigid Arctic ocean and boat ride), eventually ending up in Afghanistan, only to discover that the negative had been with him all along, albeit hidden. 

I may be crazy, but I think each of us who are followers of Jesus have a hidden treasure. The mundane of life blocks it from our consciousness, but it's there and it's from God.

It's time we stop daydreaming about living. It's time we put an end to living vicariously through our kids or some TV show, comic book hero or movie protagonist. It's time to grab life by the mane and become lion chasers.

For the next seven weeks at Hub City Church we're going to discover just how to do that.  

Friday, January 03, 2014


When I think about where I want to be one year from today one thing I know for sure is that I don't want to be the same person I am today. I want to grow. I want to be more Christlike. I want to love more, grow in holiness, be a better dad and husband, be a better pastor, and be closer to the person that God created me to be.

Unfortunately, those things don't happen without some intentional work on my part. Goals are one way to move from the person I am to the person God created me to be. But  setting goals is only half of the equation. 

I once heard Rick Warren say that we grow by making commitments. I have to commit to do certain things that will move me from the person I am to the person God created me to be.

For the past two weeks I've been thinking about a few simple commitments that I think all of us need to make for 2014. These simple commitments pack an enormous punch.

  • Commit to regularly attend and participate in your local church. Stop being hit-and-miss. Your church needs you and you need your church.
  • Commit to consistently be involved in a small group. We weren't created to do life alone. 
  • Commit to tithe. This one act of obedience will transform your entire life.
  • Commit to read your Bible on a daily basis. Pick a Bible reading plan and stick to it.

The thing that makes these small commitments so powerful is that they all have a cumulative effect. Like compounding interest, they build on one another and transform us over time.

What commitments are you going to make this year? 

Thursday, January 02, 2014


I'm not a big fan of New Year resolutions. Most of us make them and then break them 24 hours later. But goals, on the other hand, can be powerful in making the new year a better one than the previous year.

I don't know where I first learned this, but for a goal to be a goal it needs to be S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific: You need a specific target for the goal.
  • Measurable: There needs to be some measure of success to know that you're actually achieving the goal.
  • Attainable: You have to be able to attain the goal. It can't be some lofty, pie-in-the-sky dream.
  • Relevant: It needs to matter and not be a waste of time.
  • Time-bound: There must be some time-frame or deadline related to the goal.
Let me give you some examples:
  • This year I'm going to use a youversion Bible reading plan to read through the Bible in a year to grow spiritually.
  • This year I'm going to exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week to stay healthy. 
You get the picture. 

So what goals do you want to set this year. I've set a few. This blog is one of them. I want to blog at least three times a week in an effort to process my thoughts and disciple Hub City Church.

I want to leave you with something I read in Rick Warrens Devotion this morning about goals. After you read it take some time an come up with a few goals of your own.

“[God] planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth.” Ephesians 1:10 (GWT)
Goal setting isn’t just a good idea for productivity. It’s a spiritual discipline, like prayer, fasting, giving, and reading your Bible.
In fact, goal setting can be an act of stewardship as you attempt to make the most of all God has given you. You can waste your life. Plenty of people do it. To make the most of your life and invest it in a way that outlasts you, you’ll need goals.
You’re either someone who makes things happen or watches things happen — or maybe you have no idea what’s happening! Those who make things happen are the people who change the world.
Even God sets goals. The Bible says, “[God] planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth.” Ephesians 1:10 (GWT). God didn’t sit around and let the history of the world unfold in a way he found appropriate. He planned history. God has goals for the Church. God has goals for every facet of the universe.
History is moving to a climax. There will be a judgment day, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. History is moving toward that goal — because God planned it that way.
If God plans, so should we. God wants us to be like him in all facets of our lives, including goal setting. I’ve heard people say, “I’m not going to plan. I’m just going to trust God and go with the flow.”
That’s not spiritual; it’s stupid! You shouldn’t go one more day without making plans for this year. Otherwise, you’ll drift through 2014 as you’ve likely done in previous years.
If God has a plan for the next year, shouldn’t you?