Welcome to Provocative Church

As you browse, read and share the many articles, our hope is that you may find this site an encouragement to your faith and Christian life.

Worship

We were created to worship. And we are to worship God with every aspect and area of our lives - presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

The Church

The bride of Christ can often times be difficult and messy - but it is Christ's beautiful mess - to which He is the head and chief cornerstone.

Ancient Future

Our faith comes out from a rich heritage and history. It was during the formative years of our faith that creeds, confessions, traditions, and liturgies were developed. These practices and traditions recaptured will not only anchor us but move us forward in our faith.

Freedom

There is freedom in the gospel as it proclaims that in Christ we are sons and daughters of the King. The importance is learning to preach those truths to our heart and life everyday.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hey you!

What are you doing with my camera!?



My daughter making herself a self-portrait.

Cognitive Dissonance

Top 10 Things People Want for a Healthy Lifestyle
Paul Clitheroe in his book The Road to Wealth explains the dichotomy of human endeavor by first listing results from a survey asking 'What people wanted' and then matching that with 'What people spent most of their time chasing'.

10 Things People Want

1. Love
2. Connection
3. Fun
4. Peace
5. Freedom
6. Security
7. Growth
8. Self-expression
9. Adventure
10. Able to contribute

Now compare this list with the things we chase after...

The Things We Spend Most Of Our Time Chasing

1. Money
2. Fame
3. Sex
4. Recognition
5. Power
6. Responsibility
7. Achievement
8. Big House
9. New Car
10. Swimming Pool"

(HT: Your Hard Earned Money 2 Keep)
Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term to define the condition that results whenever a person attempts to hold two incompatible, if not contradictory, thoughts at the same time.

Why do we pursue the very things that we know don't give us satisfaction? Do we really want love, connection and freedom, for instance, if we are not willing to do all it takes and sacrifice everything to obtain them?

This issue really gets in my face, especially with the issue of connection and relationships. People say that they "Want" them. People come to our church, looking for a place to connect. People leave our church, because they say that they are not connecting. Are we willing to really go to the messy and hard places in order to relationally connect with others? That is what it's going to demand. Connecting and relationships sound good in theory, but in order to really achieve that level of community and connecting - it is going to demand that we allow people to get into our lives and into our business. It is going to ask of us -that we do "mission" and serve together. It will demand that we live in the gospel and be willing to forgive others when they've relationally dinged us. It is Acts 2 and Philippians 2 living, sacrificing for one another and considering others more important than ourselves. Are we really willing to go there?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Amazing Grace


Had breakfast with a friend who just saw an advanced screening of the new movie of William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament who in the early 19th century fought to end slavery in Britain. The movie is called Amazing Grace

But this is more than just another movie about "history"
William Wilberforce's work is far from finished. There are still an
estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. Modern day slavery can
come in many different forms. Entire families may work long days in
rice-mills, brick kilns or on plantations. Children may be abducted and
forced to fight in a rebel's army. All of the people in these examples
are slaves—they cannot come and go as they please and are often beaten
or threatened with violence. They have no autonomy in their day-to-day
lives and deserve the right to be free.

(HT: The Amazing Change)
I am definitely planning on seeing this movie when it comes out at the end of February.

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WOW!??


"Wow! I absolutely adore this photo from the Times. Not one smile in the bunch, never mind ebullience, mania or even pleasant anticipation.

Just because a marketer says something is amazing, exciting or just plain wow doesn't mean it is."
(HT: Seth's Blog)

People evaluate and make judgments about us not based on our clever slogans or buzzwords, but rather what they see. What about Big Creek Church, what about you and I? When people come to Big Creek or any church for that matter, how are they greeted, what is their experience? We can't say that we are lovers of Christ and yet walk around looking constipated. When people come to church on Sunday morning what do they see in the people they meet?

I am not saying that we should paint on fake and phony smiling faces. Rather I am saying that God's love should be so captivating and transforming in our lives that it would spill over in our interactions with others. People would see Spirit-filled WOW! in our lives because we have met with Jesus.

New Exercise Program


I have a new exercise program!

Exercise on my treadmill while watching "24"!

I never ran so fast before. That show is an adrenaline rush. (although these last couple of weeks have been a bit too slow!)

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Kingdom of God can't be missed

tony morgan | one of the simply strategic guys: "If your church closed its doors tomorrow, who would really miss you and why?

A great question from Tony Morgan.

That is a great question to keep in front of us. It reminds us at Big Creek Church whether what we are doing is having a true kingdom impact.

Nobody is going to miss us if we are merely "playing Church". But the Kingdom of God provokes, it can't be hidden or ignored.

The Kingdom of God is powerful

And if Big Creek Church is about Kingdom business, then we certainly will be missed.

Message to Me -Don't be a jerk!

Saw this cartoon and laughed, and cried because it also can so be true.


(HT: Pastor Greg)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Listen to the Cry of Community

We are called as Big Creek Church to listen and respond to the cry of the community in Forsyth County, GA. We are called to reach out into our public schools, Homestead, Jesse's House, The Place and families in need.

This video aired at this Sunday worship.

Communion Meditations


If you can start the day without caffeine; if you can get going without pep pills; if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains; if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles; if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it; if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time; if you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when through no fault of yours something goes wrong; if you can take criticism and blame without resentment; if you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him; if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend; if you can face the world without lies and deceit; if you can conquer tension without medical help; if you can relax without liquor; if you can sleep without the aid of drugs; if you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, or politics; then, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog.

There are two realities to which you must cling. First, God, has promised that you will receive the love you have been searching for. And second, God is faithful to that promise. So stop wandering around. Instead, come home and trust that God will bring you what you need. Your whole life you have been running about,seeking the love you desire. Now it is time to end that search. Trust that God will give you all-fulfilling love and will give it in a human way. Before you die, God will offer you the deepest satisfaction you can desire. Just stop running and start trusting and receiving. Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love, p. 12.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. Citation: George Washington Carver
Love is not communicated in the big event but in the small acts of kindness. Citation: Richard Foster
The well-off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and the deprivation in their midst. The poor have been shut out of our minds and driven from the mainstream of our societies, because we have allowed them to become invisible. Ultimately, a great nation is a compassionate nation. No nation can be great if it does not have a concern for "the least of these."Citation: Martin Luther King, Jr
Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, writes: Pastors often hear, "I work my fingers to the bone in this church, and what thanks do I get?" Is that the way it is? Your service was for thanks? Are you in your right mind? Servanthood begins where gratitude and applause ends. Timothy Keller, Ministries of Mercy (Presbyterian Reformed Publishing,1997)
his book, Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller shares a story of how he helped a friend whose alcoholism was destroying his life: Last year, I pulled a friend out of his closet…His marriage was falling apart because of his inability to stop drinking. This man is a kind and brilliant human being, touched with many gifts from God, but addicted to alcohol, and being taken down in the fight. He was suicidal, we thought, and the kids had been sent away. We sat together on his back deck and talked for hours, deep into the night. I didn't think he was going to make it. I worried about him as I boarded my flight back to Portland, and he checked himself into rehab.

Two months later he picked me up from the same airport, having gone several weeks without a drink. As he told me the story of the beginnings of his painful recovery process, he said a single incident was giving him the strength to continue. His father had flown in to attend a recovery meeting with him, and in the meeting my friend had to confess all his issues and weaknesses. When he finished, his father stood up to address the group of addicts. He looked at his son and said, "I have never loved my son as much as I do at this moment. I love him. I want all of you to know I love him." My friend said at that moment, for the first time in his life, he was able to believe God loved him, too. He believed if God, his father, and his wife all loved him, he could fight the addiction, and he believed he might make it. Donald Miller, "Searching for God Knows What" (Thomas Nelson, 2004)
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Always Prepared

I am an Eagle Scout and our motto was "Be Prepared". That motto isn't merely for scouting it also applies for Big Creek Church (and any church for that matter).

We always need to be prepared for someone new coming on Sunday Morning. We never know who is going to walk through our doors. We don't know what they bring with them when they visit. What previous baggage they have about church. People who visit Big Creek may have been hurt in the past from a church that just hammered them. They may be angry or fearful. We just don't ever know. That is why we need to be prepared. Be always prepared to show a visitor Jesus. Show them genuine warmth and kindness. And care enough to get to know them, because truly -people matter to God.

This is an interesting video of a guy who brings his father to church. His father hasn't been to church in 20 years. This video isn't professional or well made, but it's REAL. It is about 9 minutes, but stick with it, it is worth the watch and you will be blessed by this man's love for the his father and excited that this dad is being drawn back to Jesus, step by step.



(HT: Perry Noble)

God is on the move!

Wow, what a great evening last night! Big Creek Church had a leadership dinner event for the Capital Campaign and it was so cool. We had some families share how they were doing business with God over the past couple of weeks and what God had showed them as they considered their involvement with the campaign to build our new home on Bethelview Road. Rod and Dee Pettus and Chuck and Cheri Beckman shared their stories of God grace in their lives. Themes that both of these families shared were, "Listen" to God; Surrender; Trust; Scary!; and Joy! It has been an exciting journey, that only continues, for Jon, our lead pastor, our staff, our elders, our ministry team leaders and the church as a whole. This leadership event was designed for the leaders of Big Creek to come together and pledge our commitment to the campaign. And by doing so, get in front of the church and lead with our giving. It was just so exciting to hear how God is bringing renewal to people's hearts as we step out in faith.

Also during the event, we had dinner together and had some worship which was led by Sean Smith, a local recording artist, who is a friend of Big Creek Church.

Sean Smith sang a couple of his songs such as "Man of Meaning", but it was his song "Shut out the World" which has really spoke to the heart of this capital campaign, "Listen...Send Me".

Go here to listen to the songs from his album "Real" and you can listen to the music he sang last night at the event. Thanks Sean for blessing us and for bringing us to Jesus with your music.

And thanks Jon, our lead pastor, for being led by Christ, and following Him in obedience.

And thanks Mike Coffey, Rick Burkhalter and the entire Capitial Campaign team for your leadership and heart of service. You all are so awesome!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Clear Leadership


"I always use Jack[Welch] as my example here. Every leader needs to clearly explain the top three things the organization is working on. If you can't, then you're not leading well." - GE's CEO Jeff Immelt Things Leaders Do
The Simple Church needs to be clear, The Simple Church leader needs to be clear... this quote by Immelt reminds me of an Andy Stanley talk when he said that as a leader you don't have to be "certain" but you do need to be "clear".

As promised, coming soon, The Simple Church and Clarity!

(ht: Jimmy Britt)

Human Contact

We underestimate the power of human contact. It doesn't have to be much. A touch on the shoulder. A smile and eye contact. A sincere hello. A phone call. A prayer.

We are hungry for genuine, authentic, caring, loving community.

Our lead pastor, Jon, got this email from a family that has only visited twice. They are such a neat and wonderful family and they gave us permission to make this email public. I don't share this email to just toot our own horn (I can share many of our failures as well). But rather I share this excerpt from this email to illustrate the power of what happens when we simply care for one another.

Jon simply cared enough to welcome and pray for this family and their child who has special needs. It seems simple enough, but unfortunately simple things are often neglected by the busyness of life.

Dear Jon,

I can't tell you how refreshing it has been for Lee and I to get to spend the last couple of Sundays at Big Creek. What a warm welcome we have received from this body of believers! We have been pleasantly surprised at all the kindness and concern shown towards our family--and we've only been there twice for goodness sakes! Is it like this all the time?

Your phone message was like water to thirsty souls--in all the years we have been at our other church never has a pastor ever called us to pray with us over our Lukey! We have secretly longed and prayed for this and you offered it so freely...God bless you and your wonderful shepherd's heart. I can see why God would entrust you with the care of this flock. We are so excited about what God is doing in this Church--the building, the community, the love --all of it has the distinct stamp of the Holy Spirit on it, in it, and through it. What a cool ride this is going to be!!!

Time to buckle up! Go, God!

Anyway, just wanted to say THANK YOU, THANK You and thank you again!

Sincerely,
Yvette

Unleash 2007







A bunch of our staff from our team here at Big Creek Church are heading up to Anderson, SC to be part of Unleash with Perry Noble, Tony Morgan and their team. I have never met either of these men, but I have appreciated, from reading and listening to them, their heart for God, their heart for people who need Christ, and their heart for the church.

As an example, this post by Perry Noble really nailed some issues for me and our staff.

And as for Tony Morgan, we have been using Tim Stevens and Tony's books in our staff meetings.



Simply Strategic Volunteers

There is a $45.00 fee for Unleash which includes the registration for the Unleash 2007 conference and a barbecue lunch. This is an early registration cost, because the fee increases to $65.00 after March 1st. If you are able to make it to this one day conference - definitely make it happen.

Unleash 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I like coffee, but it doesn't have to be pretty!




























If you have been a reader of this blog, you probably know full well that I like coffee. No, I love coffee. I love the taste. I love the smell. I love the jolt. It is a comfort drink.

Therefore you'll understand why I found this newest trend called Latte Art so interesting.
"In fancy coffeehouses, it’s becoming increasingly common for lattes and other coffee- or cappuccino-based drinks to be presented nicely, too (and at $4 a pop, rightly so), and some ambitious baristas have raised that final touch to what many consider a new kind of art form. That’s right: latte art."
(HT: mental_floss blog)

It is bad enough to pay $4+ for a cup of coffee, but I don't get this, nevertheless it does look pretty.

Missional Capital Campaign


Building Buildings doesn't sound very missional. Putting tons of resources, time and energy just to build another building to meet just our needs, doesn't seem to put the community first. It might seem like that at first glance, but I believe that ultimately building a building isn't really the heart of the issue. A building is merely a tool. A tool to accomplish His Kingdom purposes. And that is how we see it. Here are the facts of the area that God has placed us.
We are in a county that is mostly new growth. It is one of the fastest growing counties in the area and the growth has consisted of turning farmland into new housing and development.
Therefore there are practically no preexisting structures that a church can occupy. And if we are called to reach men, women and families in our community who are in desperate need of Christ - we are going to have to construct and build something among them. In addition, we were given a strategic piece of land at a 1/4 of the land's value, the location where we plan to put our new church home.

Also we are outgrowing our current location, and lets be honest - we are hidden and out of the way, tucked away in the back of a business park on the far edge of the county. God has called us to be among the people of Forsyth county and to be a church that is a shining city on a hill, showing Christ by our presence and by compelling our people to go missionally into the community and show them Jesus.

Those are the realities of our current situation.

We are committed to make a difference in our community. But know that all these comments are not merely platitudes.

But we are putting our money where our mouth is!

We were convicted to not throw tons of money into glitzy, multi-colored brochures, just to raise money for our new church home. Most churches with Capital Campaigns may do that, we chose not to. We believed that God wanted us to redirect those resources to help reach out into the community.

This is an excerpt from the Capital Campaign brochure:
Why do we have this simple brochure?
Big Creek is not an inward-focused church. We are committed to our community. This drives everything we do and every decision we make. Because of that commitment,we decided not to spend money on a nice brochure but use the allotted money for the community. We chose to buy a van for the Homestead Community (a Hispanic community in Forsyth county). This will provide transportation for women and children to tutoring sessions, errands, community events, and to church.
You can download the full brochure here
Also go to our Capital Campaign website (here) to see what we are doing. The reason I tell you about the site is that it is amazing what can be thrown together with very little money. The website is a free blogger site, videos are hosted on YouTube, and the Powerpoint Presentation is hosted on SlideShare (which is Powerpoint for YouTube). It is simple, clear, communication.

Yes, Capital Campaigns can be missional!

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Day of Prayer


Yesterday I was mostly out of touch with email and the internet and in touch with my Lord (a very good trade off I think you would agree).

Every other month I go on a all day prayer and fasting retreat from 7-3pm. at the Ignatius House in Atlanta. About 15 men from around the area, from different churches gather together for a time of prayer and meeting with the Lord. We gather for some time together to share our lives with each other, but most of the time is alone, using the facilities and beautiful property of the Ignatius House.

I wanted to share some reflections and some ways that the Lord spoke to me during that time.

We started our time with a devotional from the facilitator Len Sykes, and we talked about faith, and Len read from Hebrews 11.

As I took some time to reflect upon faith and trust, I began to think about my challenges of faith. Everyday there are new challenges to trust God, and it is hard. There are faith and trust challenges in my ministry, in my personal life, and with my family and wife. Why is it so difficult to trust God amidst these challenges and struggles. I wanted to get to the nub of these issues and peal the issue back like a skin of an onion.

What I discovered was this... I don't trust God because I desire control, I desire control because I fear, I fear because I am not captured and surrendered to God's grace and love.

I don't trust because I desire control. I want to be in the drivers seat. I think that I know better. My way is best.

I desire control because I fear. I fear the disapproval of man. I fear failure. I fear living in obscurity. I fear being misunderstood.

I fear because I am not captured and surrendered to God's grace and love. Therefore I took a long time simmering and marinating in God's Word and His love and grace for me. (1 John 4:18 - Perfect love casts out fear)

Psalm 23 - His presence is with me, having Jesus is all I need
Psalm 91 - He is a protector, a refuge, a fortress. His love is trustworthy, I can count on it.
Psalm 103 - His love doesn't fail - it's everything I expect and much, much more.
Hosea 11:1-4 - His love is there for me, even if I don't notice it.
Matthew 10:29-31 - He thinks about me, God knows me better than I know myself. I have value and worth to Him.
Romans 8:31-39 - God gave me His Son, the GREATEST gift and sacrifice, why should I think that He would withhold any good gift from me.

The source of my lack of trust and faith is that I haven't fully surrendered to God's love. I pray that my heart would be fully captured by God's wonderful grace and love, and that I would live out of His love today in every area of my life. - Amen

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Importance of Reading

A good word.

Albert Mohler:
Reading is an important Christian discipline. Further, growth as a Christian disciple is closely tied to the reading of the Bible, as well as worthy Christian books. This is why the Christian church has championed the cause of literacy.

Do our own young people read books? Do they know the pleasures of the solitary reading of a life-changing page? Have they ever lost themselves in a story, framed by their own imaginations rather than by digital images? Have they ever marked up a page, urgently engaged in a debate with the author? Can they even think of a book that has changed the way they see the world . . . or the Christian faith? If not, why not?
(HT: Justin Taylor)
AMEN. For a guy who has over 1,200 volumes in my library, I guess you could assume I like to read. This book below, has been a good resource for me on how to be a "smart" reader.


How to Read a Book

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Ignoring the cry of the community

Got this sad and disappointing information from my friend up in Lockport Assembly of God.
39 percent of pastors reported in a recent survey they are not highly
interested in offering more programs for the community. Some of the
stated reasons:
read more here
One reason listed is that reaching out into the community is not a major priority for their church and their community has no major needs. Our communities are crying out. In North Georgia we have a lot of affluence and homes with well manicured lawns, but believe me there are a lot of people living with pain, families that are broken, and people in desperate need for Christ.

(HT: Pastor Ron)

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Has the E-Word lost it's meaning?

The USA Today has an interesting article on what it means to identify oneself as an Evangelical.
Who's an evangelical? Until last year the answer seemed clear: Evangelical was the label of choice of Christians with conservative views on politics, economics and Biblical morality.

Now the word may be losing its moorings, sliding toward the same linguistic demise that "fundamentalist" met decades ago because it has been misunderstood, misappropriated and maligned.

Evangelical: Can the 'E-word' be saved?

Also George Barna's most current report was referenced in the article. He just came out with a new survey exploring Who Qualifies As an Evangelical.

Barna looks at people who classify themselves as "Evangelical" and measures it against what are historically considered the 9 essential marks of an evangelical.

Here is an excerpt from his report:
Barna suggested that those who describe themselves as evangelicals more closely resemble a segment that his company has labeled the "born again Christian" population - a group that displays an above-average interest and involvement in religious activity, but whose religious fervor and commitment is nowhere near that of true evangelicals. (the whole report can be found here.)


The term evangelical has lost much of it's meaning and punch. The label has been so diluted and too often when the label evangelical is used it carries with it some negative baggage. That is why I prefer referring to myself as a "Follower of Christ". If I am counting my syllables correctly "Follower of Christ" and "Evangelical" each have 5 syllables (if you are an English teacher - please correct me), so it requires no more effort to identify myself as a Follower of Christ, but there is greater benefit by doing so. When I identify myself as a "Follower of Christ" I pointing to Christ as the total of my identity and not any political/social agenda or cultural identifiers. Who I am is totally bound up in Christ and Him alone.

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This is a weird and unfortunate story

"Think of the most crime-ridden place on Earth and what comes to mind: Sao Paulo, Brazil? Lagos, Nigeria? The Bronx, New York?

Try the Vatican. The small nation-city ruled by Pope Benedict XVI apparently sees more criminal cases per capita than any other part of the world, the German magazine Spiegel reports."
Holy See Official: Crime at Vatican Running at Biblical Proportions

Guilty Pleasure


(Nicholas Zitzmann Audition, part 1)
(Nicholas Zitzmann Audition, part 2)


Tonight is another episode of American Idol. This is one of the few shows that are our whole family can watch.

These early episodes are like watching a train wreck - it is hard to watch some people really embarrass themselves but at the same time I can't avert my eyes.

Does that make me a bad person?

Christians Everyone Should Know - Jonathan Edwards

I think one of the most important ways we can be encouraged as followers of Christ is to look back at the lives of men and women of faith who have come before us. Christian History magazine has a great series on the 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (based on the book).

I would like to periodically draw your attention to these followers of Christ and share my thoughts and opinions concerning why in fact we should know them and never forget them.

Jonathan Edwards -America's greatest theologian
'[I wish] to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be all, that I might become as a little child.'
(to read more about Edwards go here)
What I appreciate about Jonathan Edwards is that although Edwards is considered the greatest theologian that American ever produced, he was a man with a deep abiding walk with God. Edwards shows me the unity between theology and devotion. My study of theology should not ever mute my affection for my Lord, in fact it should only enhance it (you may think that statement is obvious, but if you ever go to seminary or talk to those that have, -for most seminarians, studying theology can have a deleterious effect on our affections toward the Lord - I hate to admit this, but it is true). Granted, Edwards' writings are very challenging to read, but the more I have persisted with his writings and thoughts the more my life has been blessed.

Listen to the cry of the Community

This week at Big Creek Church we are continuing with our series entitled "Listen". And the focus this week is on Listening to the cry of the Community. This Sunday will focus on showing Christ to others and being a missional and sent people into the community. I came across this recently and thought it had an interesting relevance to this Sunday. Although this is a serious report, I give this to you with a little tongue in cheek. It is from Mental Floss.

Be nice, and your brain will grow

helping hand.pngOr

maybe it’s the other way around: if your brain grows — a specific
region of the brain which scientists have recently linked to altruistic
behavior, that is — you’ll be nice. They’re not sure yet. What Duke
University researchers do know, however, is that the
posterior superior temporal sulcus is larger in people who regularly
engage in what the study calls “helping behaviors,” which is to say,
activities which have no obvious benefit to oneself.

While there’s certainly still more research to be conducted, the implications thus far are fascinating: perhaps truly selfless acts are rare because thepeople who perform them regularly are, well, abnormal! (HT: Mental Floss)
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Monday, January 22, 2007

"24" Deep Thoughts

1. How can Karen Hayes get cell phone reception in a Presidential bunker that is probably miles under the ground, when I can't make a cell phone call in certain parts of my house?

2. If all of Chloe's friends die around her than note to self, "Don't be Chloe's friend!"

3. How can a stud like Jack Bauer, have a brother who is such a weasel?


Some movies that provoke

I know that I am behind the times in recognizing this movie, since it has been out for a while. But this was one of those movies that I wanted to see for some time but just never got to it. A couple of days ago, I did get around to renting it and that only disappointment I had was that I waited so long.

Hotel Rwanda




This movie is about a hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (played amazingly by Don Cheadle) and how he was able to save the lives of over 1,200 Tutsis' by sheltering them in his hotel. This was a compelling story of one man's courage and his compassion to do whatever he could to save these lives from the Hutu militia in Rwanda. This is a story of a man who acted like a modern day Oscar Schindler. You definitely need to watch the special features on the DVD. The feature that will make you cry is when Paul returns back to Rwanda and his visit to one of the biggest genocide memorials is documented.

But before I had ever watched Hotel Rwanda, I saw Sometimes in April

This film is a HBO production depicting the Rwandan genocide. This movie didn't have the flash and star power of Hotel Rwanda, but it surpassed it as more compelling film. Sometimes in April takes the audience outside of the relative "safe" compound of Hotel Rwanda and reveals a much gritter and scarier side of the genocide. In fact some of the scenes in the movie are not for the faint of heart, but of course there is no way a film maker can sugarcoat the genocide of 1 million people over a period of 100 days.

When we watch these movies, we look into the past, seeing events over 10 years ago and we are reminded that not much has changed. The motto of survivors from the Holocaust was "Never Again". Unfortunately horrific events of genocide continue and continue from the Holocaust to the present (just look in the news about what is happening in Darfur, Sudan).

A couple of months ago, a friend gave me a DVD called Invisible Children and said that I needed to watch it.

Invisible children



Invisible Children is a 2003 documentary based on the experiences of three college students in Northern Uganda. What they found were thousands of people affected by the insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The resulting story focuses on the war's effects on children, particularly child solders.

They found that thousands of children flee their homes nightly in order to escape being abducted. Children in Uganda are regularly abducted by the LRA to be trained as child soldiers. The children have only two options, either stay in their homes and be brutally abducted by the the LRA or flee. So every evening, the children run from their homes and walk miles to find shelter in hospitals or bus parks in the city. (Wikipedia)

I know that movies provide great escapism, but movies also provide an opportunity to get under our skin. Too often I live with my head in the sand, living in my safe, American bubble. But movies like Hotel Rwanda, Sometimes in April and Invisible Children burst that bubble. After watching these movies, I am tempted to want to turn away, but the gospel compels me not to. The gospel compels me to act. The gospel compels me to pray for and seek justice...

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

I can't turn away, and I must speak out for those who don't have any voice. Christ's love compels me to do nothing less. Unfortunately, I have allowed my own busyness and my own little agendas to consume my attention. I repent of my own self-absorbed life and agenda.

Let these movies provoke your heart, but don't let it just end there, speak out and let others know about these injustices. Currently there are opportunities for us to act, go to Invisible Children website to get more information. Let us make more noise, let's get on our knees to pray and let's allow our hearts to be driven to compassion and action.

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That was so awesome!

If you were there yesterday morning you saw all of our children in the worship area. We emptied every nursery and kid's area and brought our children into the sanctuary to pray for them. That was a powerful moment. It was powerful, on one hand, to see all the kids! They outnumber the adults 2 to 1. Also, it was so cool to pray for them and to let them know that as adults we are supporting them and helping them navigate their unchartered waters of childhood and adolescence- and therefore was also publicly honored the adults who serve our children.

I was so stoked after leaving Sunday morning - I floated out the door.

The Power of the Cross

Anytime I have an opportunity to post sermons of Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, I immediately post them. If you are not familiar with Tim Keller, you can go to his church's website, but let me assure you - everything I've ever listened to from Tim Keller's preaching from the Word has been good food for my soul. Nevertheless I highly recommend him.


Tim Keller preached on the cross at the Christian Life Conference, Second Presbyterian Church (Memphis, TN).
1. How the Cross Converts Us (Acts 8:26-40)

2. How the Cross Changes Us (Romans 6:1-14)

3. How the Cross Unites Us (Ephesians 2:11-22)
4. The Cross and Suffering (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Communion Meditations

'God is speaking all the time, all the time, all the time.' ... If God is
speaking all the time, what am I doing all that time? I want to be listening all the time, all the time, all the time.
Rosalind Rinker, Communicating Love Through Prayer



Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering of Christ, and it is
therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to
suffer. In fact it is a joy and a token of his grace. The acts of the early
Christian martyrs are full of evidence which shows how Christ transfigures for his own the hour of their mortal agony by granting them the unspeakable assurance of his presence. In the hour of the cruelest torture they bear for his sake, they are made partakers in the perfect joy and bliss of fellowship with him. To bear the cross proves to be the only way of triumphing over suffering. This is true for all who follow Christ, because it was true for him.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer; The Cost of Discipleship
19 So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also."
John 8:19
The knowledge of God is the great hope of sinners. Oh, if you knew Him
better, you would fly to Him! If you understood how gracious he is, you
would seek him. If you could have any idea of his holiness, you would loathe your self-righteousness. If you knew, anything of his power, you would not venture to contend with him. If you knew anything of his grace, you would not hesitate to yield yourself to him.
C. H. Spurgeon

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Is it merely simply Christian?

The post title is a play on words from two books, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and Simply Christian by N.T. Wright. Both of these books are two of my all time favorites.

Internetmonk has a good post that compares and contrasts both books side by side.

Both of these books provide excellent opportunities for people to access/and enter into a discussion of the Christian faith. And so if you have a friend, family, neighbor, or coworker that you are reaching out to, these books provide a wonderful opportunity to create spiritual conversation.

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Giving a shout out!

This is a double shout out. John Ottinger has a great post about our new Assistant Worship Leader, Paul Reeves - go over to John's blog where he has some great links to Paul's music.

And as I said in my earlier post about our staff, I agree with John, Paul is a great addition to the Big Creek team, and I am so excited to be working alongside him.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

The Georgia Carnival - Part Deux


Welcome to those of you from the Georgia Carnival! Thanks for stopping in. If you are here through other means, please check out Georgia on my Mind, a blog of Georgia and her Bloggers. John Ottinger (from Big Creek) and I both have submissions listed- so please check it out.

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Listen to the Sound of the Next Generation




Our continuing series on "Listen" this Sunday will focus on the Next Generation - our children and youth at Big Creek Church. And it is going to be a way cool service. Sarah, Matt, Trey and Caleb are doing an excellent work integrating our youth during the Sunday worship service - but what I can't wait to see is when every young person marches into the Sanctuary (even those from the nursery - although they won't be marching but rather be carried by one of the high schoolers :-) ) To see every infant, toddler, child, and teenager in the worship service is going to be a powerful testimony and statement about the impact and influence we have and can potentially have on the next generation.





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Thursday, January 18, 2007

What provokes change?

From Todd Hiestand's blog, a very provocative thought.



Here is an excerpt from his post:

Keith Matthews is discussing the topic of “Why People Change.” He outlines two main reasons people undergo major life / character transformation:

  1. In a state where things are so painful it compels you to change
  2. A new compelling vision for a different reality of life

Now, here is something to ponder: As pastors do we spend most of our time trying to keep both of these from happening?





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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Laws of Branding

Bob Franquiz shares some thoughts from his recent read, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries. Bob says that "the overarching theme was simple: narrow your focus." (I know that I have been hitting this Simple Church mantra the past couple of days!). Here is an excerpt from his post.

Most churches try to do too much. Everyone says that, but no one pulls the plug on anything they're already doing. We decided to narrow our focus a couple of years ago after being challenged by the Northpoint guys at a session from Catalyst. We have limited what we do to 5 things:

#1 - Sunday Service
#2 - Children's Ministry
#3 - Student Ministry
#4 - Small Groups
#5 - Couples

By narrowing our focus to these 5 things, it allows us to do these things well. Most churches increase ministry and lower their effectiveness as they grow. We have sought to do the opposite. We have narrowed the focus as we've grown and it has made all the difference.

"But what about the people who will leave if we don't have ________ ministry?" Here's a little secret: they are going to leave anyway, especially if you and your staff are stretched so thin that you can't do anything really well. This was such a hard lesson to learn, but it's so true.

The idea that growth comes out of narrowing a focus can seem counter-intuitive, but actually it makes a lot of sense and there are real life examples to prove it.

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The Beautiful Basics of Simplicity

I came across this post from Church Marketing Sucks,
Church Marketing Sucks: Beautiful Basics

Here is an excerpt (quoting another blog 37 Signals):
Apple makes history not by leapfrogging everyone in terms of functionality and bells and whistles, they do it through elegance, simplification, clarity, and practicality.

I see no reason why they won’t follow that strategy with their phone. It will change the game, but not because it does more than everyone else’s phone. I think we’ll see just the opposite.

Apple will execute on the basics beautifully.

The illustration of simplicity of the iPhone is an example worth applying when it comes to the church. The brilliance of the iPhone is not that it does things other phones don't do, but rather it executes those same features, but does it simply. Simplicity is key.
This principle of simplicity is worth keeping in mind for every venture the church does.
The problem is that as a church we have bought too much into the consumer mindset. We feel as if we have to provide every service to every person that walks in our door. And as a result we end up heaping dozens and dozens of programs and activities that simply busy the people of God and often don't provide a healthy diet for Christian growth. How can we expect God's people to have a real and meaningful impact in the community, when the church constantly begs for their involvement in every pet program and activity that it sponsors.

We must simplify!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Word of Mouth

Tony Morgan has a great post called, "Better Marketing or Better Ministry".

Tony quotes John Moore of Brand Autopsy,
"Starbucks spends its advertising dollars on making better products and better customer experiences and not on making funnier television commercials."


Tony's comments about Moore's observations are such,
"People will be more likely to show up on Sunday morning because a friend invited them than if they receive a postcard in the mail. Not saying postcards don't have their place. I'm just saying the most effective "marketing vehicle" is word-of-mouth."
The past couple of weeks we have seen some exciting growth and new people have been joining us for worship and been returning week after week. And as I have been talking to people on Sunday morning, families have been coming because Big Creekers are inviting them. We have a great church, but one of our biggest problems is we don't have good visibility being in the business park in Alpharetta (that is why we are building on Bethelview Road). Also, we don't have a huge advertising budget, mostly because we've chosen not to invest our resources there. Advertising hasn't proven the most effective method of motivating people to visit Big Creek. The two biggest wins for us have been a good web presence, and word of mouth/personal invitation.

People come because other people invite them. It is as simple as that!
So keep telling your friends about Big Creek and invite them to come with you on Sunday.


Staff Meeting Yesterday



It was so cool yesterday. Our typical Monday morning staff meeting and no room at the table.

The table was crowded, and that was such a neat experience. Because what I was noticing were some great additions to the staff.

Just this month...

Caleb Click - Middle School Team Leader
Paul Reeves - Asst. Worship Team Leader

And of course Matt Brinkley (Next Generation Director); Trey Adams (High School Team Leader); Sarah Faison (Children's Ministry Team Leader); Tim Mills (Worship Team Leader), Cheri Beckman/Mary Thomas (Administrative Assistants), Jon Adams (Lead Pastor) and yours truly.

This is a Dream Team. I am so stoked about working with this group. These men and women love Jesus, they walk in the grace of the Gospel and are so stink'n FUN!!!

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Monday, January 15, 2007

The not so Simple Life of the Church

The problem with the church is that too often the church is not simple. Too much of the life of the church is stuffed with clutter and noise. For instance you look at a church bulletin any given Sunday and there are dozens and dozens of things to get involved in. So much to choose from, so many things to get involved with.

"Churches are so cluttered that many people are busy doing church instead of being the church."

That is the thrust of Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger's new book called the Simple Church.

Many churches have become over-programmed. We often don't have any focus and we are not clear on what we are ultimately trying to accomplish in our churches. Too often much of the effort of the church and it's leaders is simply to self-perpetuate programs and activities. Pastors and staff are paid to keep the machine going and functioning. But to what end?

Those are the issues that Simple Church attempts to address. The authors want the church to be successful in not just doing church, but to see disciples made and developed. They want the church to recapture the vision of seeing men and women grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ and to reach out and transform the community.

Ultimately this comes down to a leadership issue. "To have a simple church, leaders must ensure that everything their church does fits together to produce life change."

What is necessary to accomplish this is, A Simple Church. And by definition...
A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. the leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it. the process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment). The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus). pp. 67-68

Clarity, Movement, Alignment and Focus.

Over the several several posts I will unpack these further.


N.T. Wright Interview

Here is an interesting interview from ChristianityToday of N.T. Wright concerning his ministry and in particular his book Simply Christian, a book I highly recommend.

Here is an excerpt:

For generations the church has been polarized between those who see the main task being the saving of souls for heaven and the nurturing of those souls through the valley of this dark world, on the one hand, and on the other hand those who see the task of improving the lot of human beings and the world, rescuing the poor from their misery.

The longer that I've gone on as a New Testament scholar and wrestled with what the early Christians were actually talking about, the more it's been borne in on me that that distinction is one that we modern Westerners bring to the text rather than finding in the text. Because the great emphasis in the New Testament is that the gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world. And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you. You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work. That draws together what we traditionally called evangelism, bringing people to the point where they come to know God in Christ for themselves, with working for God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.


This is the rallying cry of a Provocative Church!

Thanks to Tod Bolsinger for the heads up of this article.

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The Human Element Video

This video is one that I composed for our worship service this past Sunday.

Can you recognize the music? Comment on this post and let me know if you have an answer. You don't have to have the name of the song, all you need to know is what commercial it is from (hint).



We wanted to communicate that when it ultimately comes down to it, the church we are building is about people. The theme from this past Sunday was "Listen to the sound of Community", as it related to the overall Capital Campaign theme which is "Listen".


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Changing Racial Attitudes

This was brought to my attention from the Peach Pulpit.

The AJC has an article about the changing racial attitudes over the past couple of decades in Forsyth County, Georgia.

The article's title is appropriate, "The Mission Continues..". More work to do, but nevertheless a wonderful departure from a county's shameful past.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Library Thing - The dream of all Bibliophiles

bibliophile
Anoun

1 bibliophile, booklover, book lover

someone who loves (and usually collects) books

I just want to draw your attention to a feature that I have on my blog. It has been there for a while, but perhaps you may not have noticed before. You can go to this link, or click the LibrayThing icon on my sidebar. And when you click it, you will go to my library (actually my wife's too - every book we own is in there - except our daughter's books). You can search my library and if there is a book you need to borrow - you can (this offer is only valid to people at Big Creek Church). I want to make my library as a resource to the people of Big Creek.

J.P. Moreland made this comment in a class I had many years ago. He said that a pastor's library has three focuses/purposes.

1. The great thinkers of God throughout history speak to us today. Pastor's can be discipled by the great men/women of faith through their writings. I have been personally deeply blessed by Jonathan Edwards, N.T. Wright, Eugene Peterson, John Piper and many others.

2. Books also become a needed resource to the pastor. Most pastor's don't live near seminaries and therefore don't have immediate access to their resources. Every pastor needs to have those resources accessible, and in effect create their own mini-seminary library.

3. Also, the pastor can use their books to disciple and resource others. A pastor is not an expert in all things, and therefore he can pass on resources from experts to those who need it. (of course every pastor should have a good loan/lending policy so that the books find their way home.)

Needless to say, these three reasons are why I have taken the time to build, and continue to build a good library.

It only took my a day and a half to get my books into the database. LibraryThing has a wonderful interface and uses information from Amazon and Library of Congress to put all the necessary information into the database. There is very little keying in data by the user. I highly recommend using this Web2.0 program. Enjoy browsing my library.

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Communion Meditations



The great spiritual task facing me is to so fully trust that I belong to God that I can be free in the world--free to speak even when my words are not received; free to act even when my actions are criticized, ridiculed, or considered useless; free also to receive love from people and to be grateful for all the signs of God's presence in the world. I am convinced that I will truly be able to love the world when I fully believe that I am loved far beyond its boundaries.

Henri J. M. Nouwen in Beyond the Mirror.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, it seems to me, largely fruits of

sustained interaction with God. Just as a child picks up traits more or less simply by dwelling in the presence of her parent, so the Christian develops tenderheartedness, compassion, humility, forgiveness, joy, and hope through "the fellowship of the Holy Spirit"--that is, by dwelling in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And this means, to a very large

extent, living in a community of serious believers.

Robert C. Roberts in The Reformed Journal

Community ... means people who have to learn how to care for each other.

Eugene Peterson

One of the greatest expressions of love is simply to notice people and to pay attention to them.

Richard Foster

No man should be alone when he opposes Satan. The church and the ministry of the Word were instituted for this purpose, that hands may be joined together and one may help another. If the prayer of one doesn't help, the prayer of another will.

Martin Luther, "Martin Luther--The Early Years,"

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Not Happy!


Ravens lose to the Colts, that game was not easy to watch.

Oh well at least I have Jack tomorrow...Jack will ease the pain.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Weekend for Television

After reading this post, you might think that all I do is watch T.V., but this is going to be a high water mark for some stuff that I've been waiting around for a while.



"24" - need I say more!









NFL Playoffs!

Now I know that I am in Georgia where football season ends after the college bowl games, but I am originally from Baltimore. And I am so jazzed about the Game on Saturday between the Ravens and the Colts. And it is sweet justice that the Colts are coming back into town, especially after they snuck out in the middle of the night to move to Indianapolis. Yes, in Baltimore we still hold grudges!



So stoke up the Tivo and pop the popcorn, because it is going to be a fun weekend!





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I've been rebuked

Being rebuked and corrected is never easy. It is especially hard in person when someone is looking you straight in the eye. But it is also very difficult to receive a correction, even when it happens in cyberspace.

I have rebuked by Cory Miller. You can read his post right here.

He doesn't mention me by name, because he is a class act and most likely was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, but I have a suspicion that he is talking about me. (and even if it wasn't my blog as he talks about, it doesn't lessen the fact that I am guilty of what he wrote about).

The egregious post that he mentions is on Bible Reading plans that I posted last week. Now although I give him attribution and a link back, I simply cut and paste his post into my blog. Of course I meant no foul and didn't plan to take credit for work that I didn't do. My sincere intention was to pass on really good information to my readers, my error was that I was lazy and just slapped someone else's content up instead of creating my own.

One thing that I learned about living in light of the Gospel is that my acceptance and righteousness isn't based on my own successes or failures. It is based solely on Christ, and Him alone. This enables me to admit my failure without fear of cover up or shifting blame.

To Cory and his readers I apologize. To my readers I apologize. I will try to be more conscientious about my postings and take the time to add my own creative fingerprint to all the work that I produce. One of my initial goals of blogging was to learn to be a better writer (an idea put forth by my seminary prof. Steve Brown at RTS) and blogging was an attempt to develop that skill. Therefore I need to take the time and discipline to craft as much of my own thoughts as I blog. Thanks Cory. (in some ways I am flattered that you might have been reading my blog in the first place!)


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Simple Church







I finished reading the Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger on my vacation after Christmas. I couldn't put this book down. Jon, our lead pastor, had read it earlier and was raving about it. I was skeptical at first. Simple church?? Nothing is simple, nothing is easy. If there is one thing that I know, ministry is complex, very complex. So I was thinking that the book was another bunch of hype, and if I just ignored it, it would just disappear. Needless to say, I broke down and read it, and boy, was I wrong. This book challenged my socks off, and I would love to share some of my thoughts about it throughout the next several weeks in this blog. I hope to benefit the most in this attempt to share my thoughts about this book. I am a verbal processor, I think out loud. And I need to think out loud about this book. I hope you all will refine my thinking as well by commenting to my posts. If you want to read along, you can buy the book here.





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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Human Element







I created this mosaic from the pictures of our church. As our theme this week is "Listen to the sound of community", we are going to talk about, yes again the our new church building and capital campaign, but more than just that. We are going to talk about that we are not simply building a building for building sake. (that's a lot of building :-) )

It is about people! It is about touching and entering into people's lives. It is about caring for people who are hurting and broken. It is about loving people for who there are, as bearing the beautiful image of our wonderful Savior. Christ's church consists of His people.

We don't serve the building, the building serves us. It is not about the brick and mortar. When you add the human element, the bricks become people, and the mortar becomes the connection we all have through the Spirit in Jesus Christ.

As you look at the plans , drawings and mock ups of the new building these next several weeks, look at them through different eyes. Use the lens of people. See people when you look at them. Because that is what it is all about...seeing lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in Forsyth County.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sermon Application

The Johnson family in our church took my sermon on Revelation 12 on Christmas eve and made a practical application from it....



Monday, January 08, 2007

Wow-What a wonderful Sunday!

I am so jazzed. We had a great worship service yesterday morning. The energy and excitement was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Everybody stepped up and put "all in" for our first Capital Campaign service. Mike Coffey did a wonderful job explaining the entire process, and the service had a wonderful mix of people talking, Jon preaching, and Paul leading us in singing. It truly was worship. What was really wonderful was the energy afterward in the Gathering Place. Tons of new people, tons of returning visitors, and a lot of the Big Creek family as sharing wonderful fellowship. God is definitely showing up in some encouraging ways, and all praise and glory to Him!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Three...Two...One...Launch!

Today is the day. I am sitting in my office before Sunday service and a couple of minutes before our prayer time. We are beginning to launch our Capital Campaign for our first facility this morning. There is a lot of joy, excitement and energy with this step of faith. But it is also scary. We are trusting God for some big stuff, believing of course that He is the one leading us, but it is challenging my socks off. Pray for Jon, me, our elders, our Capital Campaign team, our building team and our staff during this time. The next couple of months are going to be exciting to see how God shows up. I know that after this season we are going to have dozens of stories of God "sightings" and how he moved in and through the family of Big Creek Church.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Comfort Kills

Being Comfortable Can Kill Us

Too much comfort is dangerous. Literally.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley did an experiment some time ago that involved introducing an amoeba into a perfectly stress-free environment: ideal temperature, optimal concentration of moisture, constant food supply. The amoeba had an environment to which it had to make no adjustment whatsoever.

So you would guess this was one happy little amoeba. Whatever it is that gives amoebas ulcers and high blood pressure was gone.

Yet, oddly enough, it died.

Apparently there is something about all living creatures, even amoebas, that demands challenge. We require change, adaptation, and challenge the way we require food and air. Comfort alone will kill us.

(Study source: Chris Peterson, "Optimism and By-pass Surgery," in Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control [New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1993].)

Citation: John Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat (Zondervan Publishing House, 2001), p. 47; submitted by Clark Cothern, Tecumseh, MI.

.... Comfort can kill. Our comfort as Big Creek Church can kill. Not physically of course, but spiritually. We need to be a church that boldly takes steps of faith. We need to live boldly, trust boldly, and move forward boldly. For instance, I believe that if we stay in our current location at Windward Parkway, it will stunt our growth and keep us on the margins of our community. But it's comfortable where we are at! Yes it is, I agree! What a great facility God has provided. What a tremendous blessing it has been. We have been making it our home for just over a year and it feels familiar, it's cozy, it's comfortable. But it is just at this time of comfort, that God is calling us to move elsewhere. Move to a place that puts us in the center of a community. Putting us in a place that allows us to be a shining city on a hill bringing the love of Christ to a community in desperate need of Him. To make this move is going to make us very uncomfortable. It is going to cost us, and I don't just mean financially. It is going to cost us to trust Him in ways we've perhaps never trusted Him. It is going to cost us time. It is going to cost us energy. It will demand from each of us sacrifice, faith and perseverance. It will require us to lean on Him and walk in the power of the Spirit. Comfort kills. God is calling us to step out of our comfort zone and listen to Him as we move forward in faith. - this brings real life!

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year

Got this list from Cory Miller. I personally use the One Year Bible, New Living Translation. I love the devotional quality of the translation and the Bible reading plan is nicely divided into OT, NT, a psalm and a proverb reading every day.

Here is Cory's Post....
With the New Year coming soon, I thought I’d post some links and resources for Bible Reading Plans. My pastor just asked me about this last week, so I thought I’d pass along what we’re doing too.
At Quail, we’re buying this Bible reading tract from Good News Publishers/Crossway. Originally, we thought we’d do it as a quick, easy, affordable bulletin insert, but our pastor is going to do something different in the service.
The plan we picked is based on the M’Cheyne plan and can be read online here.
One more idea: At our church in Kansas City, they bought a one-year Bible by John MacArthur in bulk and offered them to the congregation at a discounted price.

Here are the links to some Bible reading plans I found online (and also include some download PDFs to be printed):
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/readingplans/ — This is the first site I went to.

http://www.navpress.com/Magazines/DJ/BibleReadingPlans.asp — They’ve got some PDF downloads to be printed.
http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/ — Great site with downloadable PDF, plus don’t miss their blog!
http://www.heartlight.org/devotionals/reading_plans/
http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/bible_guides.htm
http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/Bible/Plans.htm?QueryStringSite=Zondervan
http://www.verseoftheday.com/readingplans.shtml
http://sites.silaspartners.com/CC_Content_Page/0,,PTID34418%7CCHID152282,00.html
http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/biblereading-1yr.html
http://hippocampusextensions.com/mcheyneplan.html
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/devotions/one.year.tract/
http://www.biblicalspirituality.org/ministry.html — See his Bible Reading Record
http://www.learnthebible.org/bible_reading_chart.htmhttp://eword.gospelcom.net/year/ — good
http://www.wholesomewords.org/family/bibleread/sword.html
http://read.1on1withgod.org/
***

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm back!

Had a great vacation down in sunny Florida. Saw family and some old friends and got to go to Old Key West in Disney, Mt. Dora and some of our favorite places. Also I had a chance to read...oh, to read lots of books - what a vacation. Finished a couple books, one of my favorites was "Hood" by Stephen Lawhead. It is the first of his new King Raven Trilogy about the myth of Robin Hood. It was a fresh retelling of a familiar story.

Also as you can see I changed my banner (yet again). I am sure it is not a good blogging practice to change a site's banner too often, but for me my banner is like my computer wallpaper. I simply get tired of looking at the same thing and I want a fresh look. The photo is from the "Temple of Heaven Park" in Beijing, China. I just love this photograph.