August 30, 2012

What I Am... Reading

Over the next few days and weeks I am going to do a series of posts called "What I Am.."  My purpose in these posts is to share some of what is happening in my life and what is shaping my thinking.  I would love to hear what is shaping you.  Please share with me "what you are..." by way of comments.

I have a fundamental belief that leaders are learners and learners are readers.  I am constantly in process with some book (or more likely books).  Here are a few that I have had on my desk, iPad and in my hands over the past few months:

The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright:  Loved this book.  Wright's perspective on each line of the Lord's Prayer has really framed some of my praying these past few months.  I am most struck by the communal aspect of this prayer we have been reciting for years.

The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson:  This book was more of a challenge for me in that it contained language from a day gone by.  Despite the challenge of language it stretched me in my teaching as each of the sections were messages Thomas Watson preached.  I was awed by the depth.

Protege' by Steve Saccone:  I am in process with this book currently.  I am reading it looking for coaching advice for my mentor relationships in my life.  I am hoping to have my thinking on leadership development pushed and matured.

The Renovation of the Church by Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken:  Loved this book as well.  I found myself resonating with many of the thoughts and struggles the authors shared.  I believe that it is time for the church to re-think what in the world they are supposed to be doing.  It is time to stop blending in and start standing out.

When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson:  Another book I am in process with.  I appreciate the ministry of Bethel Church in Redding and am eager to learn from their experiences with the presence of God.  I am just a few chapters in but am finding it hard to put down.

The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight:  I just got this book this week.  Scot McKnight has written so many great things that I am eager to dive into this one.

Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill:  For me this was one of the most refreshing books I have read.  There were so many things I appreciated about Wesley Hill's handling of this issue I do not have time to write them all. For me it was refreshing to hear a call, regardless of one's struggles, to personal holiness.  The issue Hill deals with I believe is one of the most important issues of our time.

Earthen Vessels by Matthew Anderson:  I really enjoyed reading this book.  By no means would I make it a must read but I was very glad I had spent the time wrestling with the idea that everywhere we are our body is there, so it only stands to reason that God has something to say about our bodies.  We embody the gospel.  What a powerful concept.

May 08, 2012

One Vote

After much thought and considerable prayer I have this to add to the conversation about the voting process today in North Carolina.

In the democracy in which we live my opinion does matter. Not more than your opinion but the same as yours. I am two things today simultaneously. I am a voter with one vote and I am a Christ-follower with one truth.

The constitution does not eliminate me as a Christ-follower from voting nor does it silence me. In fact, those who think that there is no place for "religion in politics" not only do not understand the constitution and the context in which it was written, but they are guilty of being prejudiced and denying rights to a particular group of people.

On a very pragmatic level the constitution invites religion into politics. It protects my right to believe and pursue God. It does not legislate that anyone else do the same but it allows me to do so. It asks of me, a citizen in this country and a participant in this democratic process, that I bring my thoughts, opinions and perspectives to the poll to cast my one vote. In that simple request the constitution not only does not eliminate religion from politics it invites it to be involved.

For those who, like me, follow Jesus Christ....

We cannot follow Jesus and ignore His Word (the Bible). There are many issues in our world that are difficult and confusing. They are so because of what we know to be our fallen nature. In ALL of these areas God provides for us direction and clarity. It is in the Bible. You and I have the responsibility to seek out the truth in the Bible and live by that truth at all times.

Jesus leaves us no option but to do this if we are to be His followers. He says in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life...". Not only does He tell us that He is pointing us to the path in confusing times but that the pathway He points to is the truth and living by the truth will bring life. He goes on in the same verse to say "no man comes to the Father but by me." In the last phrase He reminds us that in order to follow Him we have to go His way.

Now some of you will read this post and infer that I am telling you how to vote. I am not. I am telling you how to live. As you seek to function in this world on any given day seek God, chose God and find life. I am convinced that if we (those of us who follow Christ) will truly trust God and obey His every word we would find that life (freedom) would be expanding all around us.

My hope is not in the democracy that we live in today. My hope is in the God I follow. My vote matters in that I have the chance to bring the truth that leads to life into a world full of something less than life. I have no desire to legislate belief because that is not possible. When asked however, I do desire to speak truth whether through my one vote or in personal conversation. Because I believe the truth brings freedom. I trust God when He promises this freedom.

If you will look carefully I have not told you how I believe you should vote. I believe that you should vote. I also believe that you should search for the truth of God and let that determine how you vote if you are a follower of Christ. I believe that in a democracy we all have the right to express our opinion through our one vote and to limit or belittle that is the most fundamental form of prejudice there is.

For the record, I believe that God established marriage long before there were any governments or social practices. I believe that as the creator of marriage He has the right to define marriage. I believe marriage is a union between one man and one woman. I believe God has defined it as such. I will be voting on this one truth when I cast my one vote.

August 02, 2011

Love Much

I have been stuck on the simple answer Jesus gave when asked to sum up the law. He simply replied "love god with everything you have and love others" (my translation).

The more I consider His simple response I am struck by the fact that it is just that simple. When I love God in the truest sense of the idea to love then the rest of my life is directed by that love. The order that comes from being obsessed with God is the key to living a full and abundant life.

Seeing how all of life falls into place when I love God first and most makes me wonder why don't we let go and love Him. What a cruel trick the enemy of our soul has played on us by convincing us that loving God a little would be sufficient. God, seeing our deceived nature, makes Himself available to help us love Him much if we are willing to allow Him full access.

April 28, 2011

Immeasurably More

Over the past few months I have been praying and asking God for “immeasurably more” for my relationship with Him and for our 724 Church family. When I began praying this prayer I had no idea how God would respond. To be quite honest there are more stories than I could possibly write in this blog. The last month has been remarkable. My wife, Carla, posted on facebook yesterday a great sentiment that reflects my feelings too. She said, “Church planting is finally fun.” This has been a great month. I will over the next few posts try to tell a few of those stories including the miraculous story of a huge announcement coming this weekend at our “Burgers in the Park” experience. For today let me just reflect on a few things that happened last weekend at Easter in the Park.

The day was gorgeous and quite honestly the setting was perfect. We rented a pavilion at a city park to hold our service. We had over 60 people attend our service. While this was our highest attendance ever, the exciting part is really not the number. We have been trying to think of someone who makes up our 724 Church community who did not invite someone to join them as a guest and we have come up blank. To our knowledge everyone (including those who were out of town) made the effort to invite someone to be a part of our day. This is a demonstration of loving what God loves. I am so proud of our community!

We also had over half of our community engaged in serving in some capacity. It was unbelievably exciting to see how many people were so deeply invested in advancing the kingdom. The day began early and required a lot of effort but not one person would say the regretted the investment. Loving God in this way is so powerful in our own lives.

We had 12 first time guests. Most of those guests were not Christ-followers and we were able to present a relationship with Christ in both spoken word and acts of kindness and service. The meaningful conversations I had with several of these guests revealed that we were effective in demonstrating Christ in a way that has caused them to take steps toward Him.

In addition to these 12 guests we were located right next to the park’s playground area. there were 20 or more people who had come to enjoy the beauty of the day while allowing their children to play on the playground. Most, if not all of them, stopped and listened as we shared that the point of Easter is the resurrection and that the resurrection changes everything.

I am so thankful for what God allowed us to experience on Easter. I am confident that it is only the beginning of immeasurably more from God.

Here are a few pictures from Easter in the Park.

April 18, 2011

A Fresh New Week

Monday is usually my day to walk slowly and regroup after a hectic weekend.  Today however, is a bit different.  This past weekend was packed with demands and opportunities.  It has served to set this week up to be awesome in so many ways.
This week is "passion week".  It is the time that we remember the week of Jesus' death and resurrection.  These events change everything for us.  God demonstrated His love for us during the events of this week.  Even though we would choose paths of sin, destruction, and rebellion He willingly died for us.  His resurrection, proven by His empty tomb, is proof that His sacrifice for us was received and fully paid our debt.  I hope that we will all take the time to remember God's great love for us this week.  Here are a few passages from the Bible that you may want to read this week to help you remember Jesus work for you:
    1. John 17-20
    2. Luke 19-24
    3. Mark 14-16
    4. Matthew 26-28
I am praying with even more energy today about Easter in the Park.  After hearing the stories of the invites that are happening by our 724 community I am even more charged up about this weekend.  God is moving in very powerful ways as we continue to seek to introduce everyday people to living spiritually passionate lives.
There are several things I hope you will make sure happen as we approach the weekend.  
    • I hope that you will invite everyone you are around this week.  I am asking God to give all of us unusual courage and boldness.
    • I hope that you will be ready to receive and celebrate all the guests who join us for our experience.  Make sure if you are a part of the morning that you spread yourself out so that someone from our community is seated at every table.  Make sure that you invite newcomers to join you at your table.
    • I hope that you will allow time to hang around afterwards and connect with everyone who participates with us.
    • I hope you will encourage those who are with us to come back May 1st for our cookout in the same location.
    • Please bring a lawn chair with you in case we have an overflow crowd and need extra seats.
    • Please remember that we are beginning at 10 am and have only one experience.
    • Finally (and most importantly) pray, pray, pray!  Ask God to make this a powerful and effective day.  I am spending time everyday this week praying specifically for this experience.  Will you join me?
You can go to our website to get the directions to Baileywick Park.  Click here or go to