My daughter making herself a self-portrait.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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'.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.
10 Things People Want
10. Able to contribute
Now compare this list with the things we chase after...
The Things We Spend Most Of Our Time Chasing
8. Big House
9. New Car
10. Swimming Pool"
(HT: Your Hard Earned Money 2 Keep)
William Wilberforce's work is far from finished. There are still anI am definitely planning on seeing this movie when it comes out at the end of February.
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)
"Wow! I absolutely adore this photo from the Times. Not one smile in the bunch, never mind ebullience, mania or even pleasant anticipation.(HT: Seth's Blog)
Just because a marketer says something is amazing, exciting or just plain wow doesn't mean it is."
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.Technorati Tags: Communion, Quotes
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)
"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 DoThe 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".
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,
"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)
Why do we have this simple brochure?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.
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
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.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.
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)
39 percent of pastors reported in a recent survey they are not highlyOne 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.
interested in offering more programs for the community. Some of the
read more here
Evangelical: Can the 'E-word' be saved?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.
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.)
"Think of the most crime-ridden place on Earth and what comes to mind: Sao Paulo, Brazil? Lagos, Nigeria? The Bronx, New York?Holy See Official: Crime at Vatican Running at Biblical Proportions
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."
'[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.'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.
(to read more about Edwards go here)
Technorati Tags: Charity, Science
Be nice, and your brain will growOr
maybe it’s the other way around: if your brain grows — a specificWhile 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)
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.
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.
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)
'God is speaking all the time, all the time, all the time.' ... If God isRosalind Rinker, Communicating Love Through Prayer
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.
Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering of Christ, and it isDeitrich Bonhoeffer; The Cost of Discipleship
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.
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 HimC. H. Spurgeon
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.
Keith Matthews is discussing the topic of “Why People Change.” He outlines two main reasons people undergo major life / character transformation:
- In a state where things are so painful it compels you to change
- 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?
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.
Apple makes history not by leapfrogging everyone in terms of functionality and bells and whistles, they do it through elegance, simplification, clarity, and practicality.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.
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.
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.
"Starbucks spends its advertising dollars on making better products and better customer experiences and not on making funnier television commercials."
"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.
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. 67-68Clarity, Movement, Alignment and Focus.
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.
|1||bibliophile, booklover, book lover|
|someone who loves (and usually collects) books|
Henri J. M. Nouwen in Beyond the Mirror.
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.
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, it seems to me, largely fruits ofRobert C. Roberts in The Reformed Journal
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.
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,"