Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Take responsibility for ONE

I have a challenge for my fellow Jesus followers, especially for those of you who are a part of the Hub City Church family.

I challenge each of you to take responsibility for one person over the next year. That responsibility includes sharing with them the love of Jesus, introducing them to Jesus, walking with them as they become a follower of Jesus, and then helping them become an active part of your local church (Hub City Church, if you're a part of the fam).

In fact, you can start this week. What if you took responsibility for bringing one person to our worship gathering on Sunday who's not got a worship gathering of their own?

I read a just released study this week that said 53% of those who aren't in church are willing to visit a church the Sunday before Christmas if someone will just invite them. 

We have a responsibility, as followers of Jesus, for the people God has put around us. I know that we can't force someone to follow Jesus. But we can do our part: Showing the love of Jesus, inviting them to follow Jesus, and inviting them to experience Jesus with your church family.

To not do this says something about our hearts. And what it says isn't good.

We all have excuses: My circle of friends is too small. I don't know people who don't know Jesus. I'm not sure what I'll say. 

Almost all of our excuses come from a place where we're trusting in our abilities. Don't trust in yourself. Trust in the One who can open doors and prepare hearts. Trust in the One who wants people to know Him.

So, are you in? Challenge issued. Let it start this week.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Some of you know that Levi played football for the first time this past Fall. He was QB for his team and he loved it. Rarely a day goes by without Levi asking me to throw the ball with him. 

He's come up with his own practice plan. Right now he's working on receiving.

Like most third graders, Levi drops a good number of passes. And like most people, he always has a good excuse for dropping the pass: "Dad, you threw it behind me... It was too high... I can't run that fast...." 

I have two mantras that I repeat whenever he throws an excuse my way: "No excuses", and "If you touch it you can catch it."

When we're practicing catching a football the most important thing is to catch the football (If you touch it you can catch it). Don't make excuses for not doing what's most important.

All of us are good at making excuses for not doing what's most important. And all of us need to stop.

Do the most important things, and don't make excuses why you can't.

What are the most important things? For me they are my relationship with God, my family, exercise, my mental health, and pastoring Hub City... in that order.

You need to figure out what's most important to you, and then do that, no excuses!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Some Parenting advice

My dad sent me a parenting tip. I think it's worth following.

Most people today think it improper to discipline children, so I have tried other methods to control my kids when they have had one of 'those moments.'

Since I'm a pilot, one method that I have found very effective is for me to just take the child for a short flight during which I say nothing and give the child the opportunity to reflect on his or her behavior.

I don't know whether it's the steady vibration from the engines, or just the time away from any distractions such as TV, video games, computer, iPod, etc.

Either way, my kids usually calm down and stop misbehaving after our flight together.  I believe that eye to eye contact during these sessions is an important element in achieving the desired results.

I've included a photo below of one of my sessions with my son, in case you would like to use the technique.

Depression and exercise

I've been reading about depression lately. Yesterday I read something that I want to share because I think it can help a bunch of us. I know it has been helpful to me. 

We all know that exercise is important for our physical health. What we might not know is that exercise is of equal importance to our mental health.

A number of studies show that regular exercise can help us recover from depression. One such study showed that three session of aerobic activity a week worked as well as medication to reduce the symptoms of depression. Another study showed that moderate aerobic activity done three to five times a week can cut moderate depression symptoms nearly in half.

What that means for you and me is that we need to get off our butt and do something active. Take a job. Swim some laps. Go for a walk. 

In talking about this in his book, Leading on Empty, Wayne Cordeiro challenges us to start small but start now!

I agree. 

I know you're busy. I know it's cold. I know you might not feel like it. But do whatever it takes to add some physical activity to your life. It might just help lift you out of your depression. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

We don't need God anymore

I could be wrong. I've been wrong in the past, and will be wrong in the future. But I'm convinced that one of the biggest barriers to being disciples of Jesus in our American culture is that we don't really need God anymore.

We have everything we need. Most of us have way more than we need.

There are places around the world where people desperately need God for things we take for granted: Food, shelter, safety, water, health....

We have all of those in abundance. We don't really need God anymore.

But that's a lie. It's an illusion.

We need God just as much as others, but we've substituted so much for God (which is what the Bible calls idolatry) that it appears we're just fine without him.

But we're not fine without him.

In desperation we need to daily follow the instruction of 2 Chronicles 7:14 - 

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Do what this verse says this week. Then God will hear, forgive and heal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A tribute to the oldest vet I know

This is my article that came out in last Friday's Herald-Journal. Thought it worth reposting today.

Three weeks ago my grandpa passed the century mark. It’s pretty cool having a grandpa who’s spent 100 years on this planet.

The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for him. The partying started with more than a hundred family and friends stopping by his house to celebrate a life well lived. He’s been on the front page of the Greenville News and featured on a few local TV news broadcasts.

Last week Grandpa, and his 91 year-old brother Homer, were able to take the Honor Flight to visit the WWII memorial in Washington, DC. Grandpa is a veteran of WWII. He landed on Omaha Beach six days after D-Day and eventually fought his way from there to Berlin.

I love Grandpa Henry stories. One time he got chewed out by his commanding officer for taking a German Army motorcycle for a spin around the German countryside because it could have gotten him shot by one of his fellow Americans. Grandpa always loved motorcycles.

Then there’s the one about the French family that invited him into their home for breakfast. He taught them how to put cheese in their scrambled eggs. They served him wine with breakfast.

His unit was responsible for rescuing thousands of Polish citizens from a German prison camp. He says “That was one of the greatest experiences of my life, setting those people free.” I get teary-eyed just typing that.

Grandpa is a part of what Tom Brokaw calls The Greatest Generation. There is so much that makes Grandpa a living example of what Tom’s book. He has always had a willingness to do whatever needed to be done, without asking for credit and special favor. Before he could come home, he spent nine months in the Hospital recovering from injuries brought on by the war, but then he came home, went to work, raised a family and never complained. You can still find him in the yard working on his ’61 Corvair, because those cars always need some sort of maintenance.

He is someone who approaches life with fresh gratitude daily. It seems to ooze out of his pores. We would all be better off if we had his attitude.

Grandpa has been married to my 94 year-old Grandma for 77 years. That level of love and commitment serves as a great example to a generation where it is rarely seen.

Veterans hold a special place in my heart. My dad is a veteran. I spend the first 18 years of my life as an Army Brat. I am grateful for all of our veterans, but this Veteran’s Day I’m especially grateful for my Grandpa.

Monday, November 09, 2015

From a friend of mine

I'm a really big believer that those of us who call ourselves Christians should act like Christians. I realize this is a ridiculous statement that should go without saying, but the fact of the matter is that too often Christians don't act like Christians.

I am sorry for the times when I don't act like I'm supposed to act. I'm sorry for the times my fellow brothers and sisters don't act like they're supposed to act. We must do better.

That is why we're talking about what it means to be counter-cultural at Hub City. To be counter-cultural means we live lives that are different from our culture, and at the same time, attractive to our culture.

Yesterday we take about the character trait of humility. Mike did a phenomenal job, and he gave us some assignments: Consider others before yourself, Engage in silence, Remember that it's not all about you. 

This coming week I'm going to be talking about what is possibly the most difficult counter-cultural trait of all because it is in direct opposition to the consumerism that undergirds everything in our culture.

In two weeks we're talking about commitment. Whetting our appetite for this topic, a friend of mine, the infamous Chris Pollard, pastor of The Journey here in Spartanburg, posted some great statements that flow into all of our counter-cultural talk. They were so good that I asked him for permission to share. He gave it, so here they are:
  • God's people in our country are meeting together less and less often (Avg 3x/mo). Is it any wonder we are weak?
  • We have sacrificed relationships & community for events & experiences.
  • Often, the first sign that we have stepped away from God is that we have stepped away from God's people.

All of this is about us living different from our culture and attractive to our culture. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Enjoying the roller-coaster ride of parenting

Anybody who is a parent knows the ups and downs of parenting. Six Flags couldn't design a roller-coaster modeled on parenting because it would cause trauma, whiplash and possibly, paralysis. 

There are good days. There are hard days. There are days when you feel like you've got the hang of things. There are other days when you have no idea what you're doing.

The past couple of months have been a unique time in our parenting. Nathan started High School and has been consumed with marching band. Levi has been playing football. He now has a path to the NFL planned out for himself. Just this past week Matthew started off-season training with the High School Tennis team. 

All of this has left us a bit stretched, and I woke up this morning feeling a bit emotional about it all. 

Tomorrow is the marching band state championship. I'm probably biased, but Byrnes' program is phenomenal. I love that Nathan has the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than himself. I hope they win state. I'm even a little surprised that I am sad about the season is coming to an end. It has been such a great experience for Nathan.

Tomorrow is also supposed to be Levi's final football game of the season. Unfortunately, the game will probably be rained out. It has been so much fun watching him have fun quarterbacking and leading and encouraging his young team. 

I'm writing about this because sometimes in the busyness and ups and downs of parenting we forget to pause and reflect on the present. My emotions reminded me to pause today.

Liz and I remind each other often that time is short. Our time with our kids is short. So, even through the roller-coaster ride, remember to enjoy the journey.

And with that being said: Go Rebel Regiment! Win State!!!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of counter-culture. The problem with the phrase “counter-culture” is that all of us have a different idea that comes to mind when we hear it. 

Some people think of hippies. Other's think of David Platt's book by the same title. A friend of mine thinks of that stuff that grows on food that's been left on your counter too long.

And then there's the way we, as Christians, think of being counter-culture in our day. Most of the time when we think of counter-culture we approach it from an issues perspective. In other words, we are different based on how we stand or side with certain issues. 

Issues are important. But I don’t think our stance on issues is what makes us counter-cultural. Where we stand on issues might make us different, but it’s not all that attractive. Issues seem to build walls and push people away.

Since there's to much confusion, let me define what I mean when I use the phrase “counter-culture.”

To be counter-cultural means living in a way that is both different from our culture and attractive to our culture.

To be counter-culture means that you live a life that is in contrast to the current culture. It involves being different. But to be counter-cultural is to be different in such a way that is attractive and that draws people to want to step away from their current culture into your counter-culture.

There’s something about it that is both different and attractive.

This is a great description of how we, as followers of Jesus, should live. We need to live lives that are in contrast to our current culture. Our contrast needs to be attractive, in that people want what we have.

But how do we live in a way that is both different from our culture and attractive to our culture?

Well, instead of an issue-based counter-cultural way of living, I think we need to have a character-trait-based counter-cultural way of living. The Bible lists out all kinds of counter-cultural traits that should characterize our lives as Christians. They are evidences of God’s working in our lives. They are character traits that are in direct contrast to the character traits we see displayed in our culture.

We're going to be talking about this counter-cultural way of living during the month of November at Hub City. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. God has something he wants to say to you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

But I don't want to

Anyone who has ever been in any sort of relationship knows that forgiveness is essential to the health of a relationship. 

I've noticed there are two things that keep us from forgiving others. 

First, we don't know how to forgive.

Second, we don't want to forgive.

I can help you if you don't know how to forgive. It's not easy, but it is a pretty simple process of canceling the debt that someone owes you. 

If you just don't want to forgive, well, I can't help you. 

But I will remind you of a few things Scripture says to those of us who are Christians about forgiveness. 

We are commanded to forgive. Colossians 3:13 says: 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Meaning, if you refuse to forgive you are being disobedient. 

Jesus warns us about not wanting to forgive in Matthew 6: 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Maybe that will motivate you to develop the habit of forgiveness. It sure motivates me.

One more thing: Refusing to forgive ends up hurting the one who refuses to forgive more than it hurts anybody else. Why would you do that to yourself? 

May God grant you favor as you develop the habit of forgiveness. 

Friday, October 09, 2015

The difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea

One of the burdens I've been feeling lately has to do getting every person at Hub City serving somehow, somewhere for the Kingdom. This could mean serving on Sunday as a part of our worship gathering. We have all kinds of serving opportunities. It could also mean serving somewhere outside of the Sunday morning gathering. There are more ways to serve than on Sundays.

There are a few reasons this is so important to me.

Reason #1: We are a body. Paul tells us we are the body of Christ. And for a body to be effective in being the body that God created it to be, each part must be doing its part. When there are parts that aren't doing their part the body is hindered and handicapped. 

Reason #2: We, as Christians, should be modeling Jesus, who did not come to be served, but who came to serve.

Reason #3: Each of us have gifts and talents that God has given us that are to be used to build his Kingdom. And I think these gifts have a "use it or lose it" thing.

I was reminded of an illustration that illustrates the "use it or lose it" idea. It has to do with the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Galilee is a lake full of life because it takes in water but also gives it out. In contrast, nothing lives in the Dead Sea because, with no outflow, the lake has stagnated.

We give life and are full of life when we use the gifts that God has given us. When we don't we sort of stagnate. 

So here's the question: When and where and how are you serving, using the gifts that God has given you?

I want to help you find the best place for you to serve. Talk with me. Let's be a fully functional body turning the world upside down.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hub City is looking for a worship leader

As some of you may have heard, this past Sunday was Josh Roger’s last Sunday as our worship leader. I am very glad that he’s not leaving Hub City, but he does need to step down from leading worship to focus on his full time job. As I've said often, there's not enough time to do everything. Josh is making the wise choice for his health and his family. Josh has been a picture of faithfulness over the past seven years at Hub City. I am so grateful for how he has served and led. I will miss him leading.

With that being said, Hub City is now in search for a part-time worship leader. This is an incredible opportunity. If you or someone you know might be interested please email us at We would love to talk with you.

In the meantime, we would appreciate your prayers. Pray for God to bring us the right person.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

God for the Rest of Us

I'm really excited about the new teaching series we're starting Sunday at Hub City that we're calling God for the Rest of Us

I was inspired to do this series by a book with the same title written by Vince Antonucci. I had the chance to spend a few days with Vince before we launched Hub City and was impressed by his hospitality and humility. I've read everything he's written. I think this may be his best book yet.

It's a book written to both those who aren't Christians yet to illustrate that God is for them, not matter what they've done, and to those of us who are Christians, to remind us that God's not just for us.

Over time we start to think misguided thoughts that Jesus is just for us. But he's not. He's for everyone. This book is a great reminder of that, as well as a great resource that could help us communicate the amazing love of God to a lost, hurting and dying world.

It would be a great book to read as a supplement to this series. I encourage you to get a copy.

A friend of mine asked me if our series was based on Vince's book. He didn't want to come to church for a book report. I don't blame him. I told him that it was "inspired" by the book, and that I'll even use it as one of my resources during the series. 

I'll also use other resources. If you're there on Sunday you'll notice that I'm going to use Dr. Seuss. Later on I'll use a TED Talk. One week I'm going to use Mumford and Sons. I'm even going to use Ashley Madison (the "Life if short, Have and affair" website). 

I like to use all kinds of resources.

But the series is "based" on the God who reveals himself in the Bible as the God who is for the rest of us.

So if you're someone who'd been turned off by church or by Christians, I want you to come and discover the God who is not turned off by you. 

If you're a part of the Hub City Family, do WHATEVER IT TAKES to bring one of your friends, neighbors, or coworkers, to introduce them to God for the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Everyone did as they saw fit

I just finished reading through the book of Judges in the Old Testament. If you want to read a weird book of the Bible then read Judges. It shows the downward spiral of the nation of Israel as they fall away from the true God and instead worship man-made idols.

Honestly, it's a pretty depressing book and nowhere is this more evident than in the final verse.

Judges 21:25
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

There was no leadership. No one was giving direction to the Israelites. No one was there to provide any sort of moral or social compass to follow.

So everyone did as they saw fit. Another translation says that "everyone did whatever he wanted."

I think we might all agree that this statement is just as true in our day as it was in the days of the Judges.

But something jumped out at me this morning when I read that verse. See if you notice it: Who were the people who did as they saw fit?

It wasn't the pagan nations that surrounded and lived among the Israelites. It wasn't the Egyptians or the Babylonians or the Caananites or any other of the "ites." 

It was God's chosen people, the Israelites, who did as they saw fit.

That got me thinking about those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus. I fear that we might be just like the Israelites at the end of the book of Judges. 

Isn't this why we church hop? Isn't this why we're so inconsistent in the activities of faith like reading our Bible, participating in corporate worship, or connecting relationally in small groups? Isn't this why we think our interpretation of certain passages is the only right interpretation? Isn't this why we're more "us vs. them" than "us for them?"

At the root of doing as we see fit is a lack of authority over us. We all have authority issues, don't we? We're inherently rebellious. 

But as Christians, submission to authority should be what characterizes us.

First and foremost, we must submit to the authority of Scripture. We're never told we need to like everything the Bible says, or even agree with the way God set things up. But we do need to submit to its authority, even if we don't agree with it.

Second, we need to submit to whatever authority God has placed over us. This could be governmental authority or spiritual authority (like pastors or elders). I know this is tricky, but in our rebellion and disagreements with authority we are being disobedient to the commands of God about this issue.

Finally, we need to submit to one another. Doing as we see fit is self-centered. It's all about us, which is really a problem of pride, or the idolatry of self.

If someone were writing a book about us to go in the Bible (I know that we don't add or take anything away from Scripture, but just imagine), if someone were writing a book about us, how would it end?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Our yard rabbit

We have a new pet around the Everette home. Actually, he's probably been around for a while, but we only started seeing him/her a few weeks ago. He/She is our yard rabbit. 

At first I wanted to shoot him because I thought he was eating my garden. I even told my boys I'd pay them $20 to kill him. But come to find out, some pesky birds were responsible for my garden nibbling.

So now I'm happy to let him live.

And this is a good thing because every time I see him hopping across my yard I pause for a minute because he makes me smile. 

I think the pause is an overlooked spiritual discipline in our busy, non-stop world. 

God is at work, showing off, all around us... and we miss it most of the time.

So maybe we should learn to pause, and during that pause thank God for life, rabbits and whatever else of his extravagant grace you might see.

Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Not About You

My favorite first line of a book comes from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. 

It's not about you.

That hurts, doesn't it? 

Most of the time we make life all about us. 

But having an attitude and motivation that is all about us is deadly for our spiritual growth as Christians.

A significant change is supposed to happen as we mature as followers of Jesus. We're supposed to have a shift from being "me-focused" to being "other-focused." A "me-focused" person makes a lot of "I, me and my" statements. 

The Apostle Paul says it this way in Philippians 2:3-4:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

So, is life all about you? Do you make decisions by thinking of yourself first? 

Most of us wouldn't admit that life is all about us, but don't lie to yourself. Be honest with your motivation. 

I believe that "me-focused" thinking is quite possibly the biggest hinderance for Christians in our day. It's a sign of spiritual immaturity. 

It's not about you.

Friday, July 17, 2015

I'd love your input

I'm thinking of sending this in next week to the paper for my article. I'd love your input/opinion. This is my rough draft.

I'm Sorry
A recurrent teaching around my house is “how you say what you say is just as important as what you say.” I repeatedly tell my boys that you can be right in what you say, but wrong in how you say it. You need to say the right thing in the right way. This involves respect for the person you’re speaking to, tone of voice, tact and kindness.
 Over the past few weeks I’ve been a little embarrassed by my fellow Christian brothers and sisters because of how we’ve said what we’ve said. We mean well, at least most of us do, but we haven’t been all that Christ-like with our words. At times, we’ve been downright jerks. And I want to apologize.
 We’ve let those who disagree with us, issues we feel passionate about and our emotions trump our obedience to the teachings of the Bible.
 We seem to have forgotten that Jesus said we would be known by our love for one another (John 13:34-35). I’m sorry.
 We have ignored the subtleness of being salt and light. Instead, we have been an obnoxious bullhorn (Matthew 5:13-16). I’m sorry.
 We’ve been more focused on making a point than making a difference (1 Peter 2:12). I’m sorry.
 We’ve forgotten Paul’s admonition to not let any unwholesome and unhelpful talk come out of our mouths (Ephesians 4:29). Paul is clear that our speech should be helpful and it should benefit those who listen. We’ve not been helpful or beneficial lately. I’m sorry.
 We unfairly ask, or in some cases demand, that everyone agree with our standards of morality when not everyone has signed up to live according to those standards (1 Peter 3:15). I’m sorry.
 The fact of the matter, which we’ve made painfully obvious over the past few weeks, is that we do have deeply held values and beliefs. Most everybody does. The reason we are so passionate is because we believe the Bible is true and tells us how we are to live as followers of Jesus. Also, we’re taught throughout the Bible that rebellion against God and his standards comes with serious consequences. We can’t and shouldn’t change what we believe. But we can, and should, change how we respond.
 We should know better. Jesus set a great example for us to follow. When Jesus was arrested, falsely accused, beaten and crucified he responded with these words: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
 If you’re not a Christian I can understand why you might not want to become a Christian. That breaks my heart. It’s why I’m saying I’m sorry. Don’t let our shortcomings keep you away from Jesus.

Monday, June 15, 2015

This will not be in Sunday's sermon

I'm preparing for this coming Sunday's sermon on Jesus' parable about the wheat and the weeds. You should read it and show up on Sunday as we talk about it. It's one of Jesus' "Kingdom Parables," stories he told to illustrate the mysteries of the kingdom.

I came across some commentary that I'm not going to include in my sermon, but that's too good to keep to myself. Enjoy:
The parable of the wild wheat is unique to Matthew (cf. Matt. 36-43). Here is an interesting paragraph from New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDOTTE), vol. 1, p. 299. 
"The idea of the invisible church is found in Augustine, City of God; Wycliffe, De ecclesia; Luther, Preface to Revelation; Calvin, Institutes IV 1 7; and many other writers (see edition of Calvin's Institutes, ed. J. T. McNeill, 1960, II 1022). The thought that is uppermost is not to minimize the importance of church membership, but to recognize the possibility of hypocrisy and deceit. In the last analysis, those who belong to God are visible to God alone. Membership of the true church is a fact which is not visible to man. The idea recalls the statement of 2 Tim. 2:19; 'The Lord knows who are his.' It extends to the church what Paul says of Israel, that they are not all Israel who belong to Israel, but only 'the children of promise' (Rom. 9:6 f.). It recognizes the danger, which church members are warned against, of reaping corruption through sowing to the flesh (Gal. 3:7; cf. Rom. 8:12 f.). Paul recognized the need for discipline in his own life lest he should become a castaway (1 Cor. 10:27; cf. Phil. 2:12, 19). The possibility of church members falling away is one of great themes of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 2:3; 3:7-4:14; 6:1-12; 10:26-39; 12:12-28). It is also suggested by the parables of the weeds (Matt. 13:24-43) and the sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-46) and the example of Judas (Matt. 10:4; 26:14, 25, 47 ff.; 27:3; Mk. 14:10, 43; Lk. 6:16; 22:3, 47; Jn. 13:2; 17:12; 18:22 ff.; Acts 1:17 ff., 25)." 
These warnings do not jeopardize security, but give a balance to excessive confidence in an initial decision and ignores the mandate of discipleship and perseverance.
I put the last sentence in bold because for too long in the American church we've put "excessive confidence in an initial decision" to follow Jesus. But following Jesus is more than praying a prayer. It's about following him for a lifetime. 

Hope that inspires some thought on this Monday morning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let's all get circumcised...

I've always said that Genesis is one of the "R" Rated books of the Bible. This morning I was reading out of chapter 34 and it's a bit sketchy.

You should read the chapter for yourself, but in the meantime, here's the summary: Jacob's daughter Dinah is raped by a man named Shechem. He then wants to marry her so he gets his dad to go to her dad to work out the marriage details. Dinah's brothers get involved and come up with the price of the marriage, which is really just an attempt to get revenge on Shechem for defiling their sister. The price is that every man, not just Shechem, but every man in their village/area had to be circumcised. Surprisingly, Shechem, his dad, and the men all agreed to this price.

Now let me ask you: What kind of influence would you have to have to talk all the men of an entire village into circumcising themselves?

During their "recovery" time, Dinah's brothers came in and killed all of the newly circumcised men and plundered the village it get vengeance for their sister.

It was greed that motivated these men to undergo an embarrassing and painful surgical procedure to a very private body part... the lengths we'll go to for power and money.

I would like to think I would have opted out of this deal, but this got me wondering: Who is influencing me? What voices am I listening to? Who am I allowing to speak into my life? 

In Proverbs 13:20 Solomon writes, "He who walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm." 

All of us are listening to somebody and something. Most of us don't even realize the influence those voices are having on our lives. 

Be careful who you listen to. Walk with the wise. 

I think I need to share this story with my boys tonight. Male body parts are common topics at our dinner table. Now I have a story with a male body part to leverage for good.

Friday, May 15, 2015

My shower epiphany

I had an epiphany this morning in the shower.

I've been reading Eugene Peterson's book, The Pastor, which is his memoir about becoming and being a pastor. He begins the book by looking at how his upbringing shaped him into a pastor. Reading his story got me thinking about mine.

I grew up an Army brat. Maybe it's because I didn't know better, but I loved moving around, living everywhere from California to Germany. Moving 10 times before I turned 18 shaped me in ways that I won't get into here.

My epiphany had to do with attending military chapels. When we lived in Germany we really only had two churches to choose from: The Catholic Mass, or the Protestant service. They shared the same building. My parents were from Baptist and Presbyterian backgrounds so we really only had one choice.

Each Sunday we would worship with people who were different from us, but who had one thing in common: We were Christians who were trying to love and follow Jesus. We didn't agree with everything. Sometimes we had good chaplains. Sometimes we had not-so-good chaplains. But we figured out how to get along. We worshiped Jesus, even if the worship style was a bit uncomfortable. We focused on what we had in common more than what we disagreed about. Everybody tried to do their part to make the chapel a church.

We live a church culture in America that's defined by choice. Consumerism has infected the church so deeply that we think choice is normal. This is a topic for another day, but I think consumerism is going to eventually kill the church in America. It's a disease.

The way church feeds our consumerism is not only by offering all kinds of ministries to meet people's needs, but by changing how we, as Christians, think about church. Now we think we need certain things: A certain worship style, a certain Bible translation/interpretation, a children's ministry, a youth ministry, a women's ministry, a men's ministry, a Christian pre-school/school, a young-at-heart ministry, a ministry to goats, a ministry to (fill in the blank).

Be honest with yourself: How many of you think you need a children's ministry for your kids? How many of you think you need a youth ministry for your teens? How many of you think you need some form of religious goods and services that the church provides for you? 

It's not that those ministries are bad, but do we need them? None of them were available during the first century. Most of them aren't available in most churches around the world. Heck, America is really the only country where "choice" is even an option.

It's ironic that in our land of choice and options that the church is shrinking, but in places where choice isn't even a thought, the church is growing.

My epiphany was that my lack of choice in church in my formative years contributes to my anti-consumeristic approach to church today. It's one reason Hub City doesn't offer what other churches offer. It's why I'm so angered by church-hopping. It's why I'm becoming more and more anti-church-growth (even thought I desperately want to see Jesus grow His Church).

I've heard and I know that we need to swim in the culture we're in. But what if that culture is taking us somewhere we don't need to go? What if Jesus is calling us to a counter-cultural way of living and being church and doing church where consumerism doesn't have a place at the table?

Maybe then we'd focus on loving one another, making disciples and building the kingdom. Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing anyway?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Intimacy with God

One of the major reasons Hub City Church is doing a seven week series on Prayer and Fasting has to do with my number one desire for people. More than anything I want people to have an active, growing and intimate relationship with God. 

Prayer and fasting are essential to that intimacy.

Mark Batterson, in his 40 day prayer challenge, Draw the Circle, says this:
The reason most people don't feel intimacy with God is because they don't have a daily prayer rhythm. They may have a weekly rhythm of going to church, which is wonderful, but doing so in and of itself won't produce intimacy with God. Can you imagine talking with your spouse or child once a week? God wants a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute relationship with you.
I want everyone to have that kind of relationship with God. So how's your daily prayer rhythm?

This past Sunday I said that the only way we learn to pray is to actually pray. Dive in. Start talking with God.

An intimate relationship with your creator is at stake, and there's nothing greater than that.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On the Physical Death of Jesus

This is what's called "Holy Week" on the Christian calendar. It's the most important week of the year for Christians. It's even more important than Christmas.

What's the big deal about this week?

We remember and celebrate Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. 

Christians believe that if it weren't for the death of Jesus we would all be dead in our sin and separated from the possibility of having a right and restored relationship with God. If it weren't for Jesus' resurrection, the fact that he rose from the dead, then our faith would be useless.

This week is all about those two pivotal events.

As I was preparing for this week's sermon (which you can listen to if you come to Spartan 16 Movie Theater on Sunday at 10 AM... shameless invite, I know), I came across a fascinating article that was published in 1986 in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled, “One the Physical Death of Jesus.” 

It's worth your time. I'm going to use some of it on Sunday, but you owe it to yourself to read the whole thing, even if your not a Christian.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Never put a period where God puts a comma

A few weeks ago I heard Mark Batterson say something that I had to rewind and listen to again and again. I'm still letting it sink in. It was both encouraging and challenging. I immediately wrote it down and am using it at the end of my sermon on Sunday, but thought I'd share it ahead of time. May it encourage and challenge you as well, especially those of you who are going through a tough time.
Never put a comma where God puts a period and never put a period where God puts a comma. All of us hit spots in our life when we think our life is over. But it’s not over. Oswald Chambers said, “Sometimes it looks like God is missing the mark because we’re too short sighted to see what he’s aiming for.” Before God adds he usually subtracts. Before God multiplies he usually prunes. Before God brings something to life, something usually dies. There’s a tendency to hit the panic button when God subtracts, when there’s a pruning in your life, when something is dying. But it may be that God is getting ready to do something in your life that you haven’t seen before. – Mark Batterson
For those of you in the Sparkle City vicinity, join us at Hub City this Sunday, 10 AM. Spartan 16 Movie Theater. For you out-of-towners, feel free to listen online next week. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Attitude is everything in marriage

I'm reading a fun and practical book on marriage called Creating an Intimate Marriage by Jim Burns. If you are married I strongly suggest you clicking on the link and buying/downloading this book. 

Today I read a chapter called Attitude is Everything.

We know attitude is everything, but we sometimes forget how important attitude is in a healthy marriage. Jim shares five important attitude adjustments that are too good for me to keep to myself. I hope these help you in your pursuit of intimacy.

  1. Stop Complaining. Philippians 2:14 says, "Do all things without complaining and disputing." Complaining is negative. It shuts down intimacy. Cut out the complaining.
  2. Show Gratitude: Paul writes for us to "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Happily married couples aren't happy because of their bank account, physique, or the fact that they never have arguments. What they do have is an attitude of gratefulness for their spouse. Make gratitude a daily habit.
  3. Practice the Golden Rule. Jesus says in Matthew 7:12, "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." Show appreciation, honor, respect and love to your spouse even if he or she doesn't immediately reciprocate that kindness.
  4. Control the "If Only's." James says to "Let your 'yes' be less and your 'no,' no (James 5:12). This involves misplaced expectations where you expect your spouse to be the one to make you happy. Don't expect the other person to be your solution. 
  5. Choose Fun and Optimism. Fun and optimism can change a marriage for the better. Small pleasures make for strong marriages.
Attitude is everything. Put these attitude adjustments into practice today. You can choose your attitude. Choose wisely. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Life Hurts

One of the few things every human being who has ever walked on this planet have in common is that sometimes life hurts.

Hurt does not discriminate. Rich or poor, first world or third world, black or white, we all suffer at times. 

While the degree of suffering may be greater for some than others, we all experience hurt.

I know a lot of people who are hurting right now. Walking with them in their pain got me thinking about all the Bible has to say about suffering which led to what we’re going to talk about at Hub City Church for the next four weeks.

We’re not going to address every Bible passage that has to do with suffering. That would take over a year. We are going to talk about four things that will hopefully give us a more complete and healthier theology of suffering.

If you are looking for a church family then I invite you to join us at Spartan 16 Movie Theater this Sunday for week 1 of When Life Hurts.  If you’re out of town or already a part of another church, but this topic intrigues you, then I invite you to listen online.

For those of you who are a part of the Hub City Church family: Don't miss the next four weeks. I believe God is going to meet with us. Do whatever it takes to be there and invite someone who is hurting to come with you.