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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Georgia Carnival of Bloggers is UP!

Georgia bloggers submit their best posts from the past several weeks. I have the privilege of contributing often to this endeavor, and have a post up on this latest edition.

Go check it out HERE.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day


We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
- Winston Churchill

Thanks to all those who have served our country with honor & courage in times of war & peace.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mall Mania

A giant outdoor mall (called the Avenue at Forsyth) just opened down the street from where we live. It is a sign of the times, for this growing (the 8th fastest growing county in the U.S.) and wealthy (the 13th wealthiest county in the U.S.) bedroom community of Atlanta.

I went to see Prince Caspian on Friday at the new AMC Theater at the mall. It is a Digital Theater - the screen was clear and crisp, it was awesome!! I've been ruined! I can now never go back to watching movies with the grain and the lines running through it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Real "Office"

Funny stuff! From this past SNL.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How the RSS feed can help you in life!


Have you ever seen this icon while surfing the web? Do you scratch your head and wonder, What does that mean?

It is the icon for an RSS feed. RSS feeds are a wonderful thing. In simple terms you subscribe to a website's RSS feed and in return you receive delivered fresh and instantly new and updated content and information. Instead of going, visiting and checking your favorite websites and blogs for new information and content - THE CONTENT comes DIRECTLY to YOU.

Here is a post from Web Worker Daily and Aliza Sherman on the author's first impressions about the impact reading feeds is having on her life and work. Here are some of her main points:

1. They make me look smarter.

2. They give me interesting fodder for conversation with my husband.

3. I read more blog posts in one week by Seth Godin than I had in the last several years. I don’t mean to neglect Seth. He’s smart. I like him. I learn from him. But I stray from reading blogs in general because I can’t seem to find the time. Reading feeds over eggs and coffee carves out time to learn from the masters.

4. I learned about new paths to productivity.

5. What I read in feeds last week had either a direct connection or impact on what I do every day for work. It remains to be seen if I can keep up with my feed reading over time. In the meanwhile, I’ll absorb as much knowledge as I can to expand my understanding of this ever-changing industry and to improve what I do and how I do it.


Need a gentle introduction to RSS see her other post- Needing a Gentle Intro to RSS Feeds.

Let me springboard off of some of Aliza's thoughts.

Here are the benefits that I have received receiving and reading RSS feeds as a Pastor.

1. I stay more informed - I get through the RSS feeds some of the best and most helpful information for ministry, the church, and even devotionally. What I read provokes my creativity and enhances my ministry.

2. It saves me time - Some people say to me, How do you have the time to READ all those websites!? I say, I don't. But having the information come directly to me and then being able to skim the Headlines, multiplies my time and saves me from wasting it. I get the information that I want, and ignore the information the I don't want.

3. It gets me out of my ghetto - I get to learn from so many talented and gifted pastors, ministry leaders and people throughout the world. I learn from people outside of my denominational traditions and with different theological persuasions. Reading my RSS feeds expands my thinking and imagination.

4. I am building a "forever" library of resources - Because I use Google Reader to receive and read my RSS feeds, I can search for information easily if I need it at a later time. Searching my feeds for relevant information is much easier and effective than doing a general Web search. I am more likely with a RSS search to get the information relevant to my interests and needs.

How to get Started:

Sign up for Feed Reader - I would recommend Google Reader

Start signing up and subscribing to feeds - start with this site - Provocative Church,
and my other site Ministry Best Practices then go to the LINKS on my side menu and visit those blog sites listed and add their feeds (that is a good place to start)

And then sit back and enjoy having relevant, helpful and interesting information delivered right to you.

(ht: WebWorker)

this was cross posted at Ministry Best Practices

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is God useful or beautiful?





This came in my inbox today from my friend Nathan

He is reading through “Streams in the Desert” and especially the devotionals by George Mueller, (which is one of my Heroes of the Faith)

While talking about trials and suffering in our lives, Mueller stops teaching for a second and asks:
“Are you able to genuinely say, from your knowledge of God and your relationship with Him, that He is indeed a beautiful Being? If not, let me graciously encourage you to ask God to take you to that point, so that you will fully appreciate His gentleness and kindness, so you will be able to say just how good He is, and so you will know what a delight it is to God’s heart to do good for His children. The closer we come to this point in our inner being, the more willing we are to leave ourselves in His hands and the more satisfied we are with all of His dealings with us.”
Wow, let that sink in. Is God a beautiful Being? Too often I treat and see God like a "useful" Being - what He can do for me. But to see Him as a "beautiful Being" - I will be chewing on this for a while.

You want to check out this audio


Over spring break, my wife attended this year's Synergy conference for women in mission in Orlando, FL.

They just released their conference audio. You can hear Carolyn Custis James talk about her new book The Gospel According to Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules, Leigh McLeroy’s encouraging message entitled The Plot Thickens: Following the Story’s Twists and Turns, and Reggie Kidd’s Our Sister Phoebe.

There are also a number of excellent seminar messages from writing to exploring orality. My wife was tremendously blessed by this conference, and I am looking forward to hearing the audio from all the speakers that she continuously raved about.

All here for free: http://www.synergytoday.org/audio.html



Monday, May 19, 2008

Lessons My Daughters Learned from Hannah Montana


A couple of months ago my kids were glued to the television screen. They were watching the Kids Choice Awards on Nickelodeon. I have two daughters, 14 and 12 and they wanted to see the latest pop sensation, the Jonas Brothers. The show was an endless stream of awards generously given out as kids continuously belted out one long scream. When Miley Cyrus, known also as the alter ego Hannah Montana, came up to receive her reward. She thanked, in true Hollywood style, “my lord and savior Jesus Christ” .

My kids and wife were excited. They shouted, “Way to go!” Perhaps I am just the old man in the room, but my response was a bit more crusty and cynical. I wasn’t impressed...... (read the rest here)

You can check out my latest post over at Christ and Pop Culture.

I Want One of These!


This is the quintessential "Geeky T-Shirt"

Check this out, it actually tells you about the presence of a WiFi signal! This would be so cool to wear while working in the internet cafes. You can get one here.

Also makes a great Christmas/Birthday gift for your favorite pastor.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thank You!

This is a video tribute we showed this morning to thank all those who give away their time and pour out their love and commitment in serving us and our children.

Thank You!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Information Overload

Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I've come across. I feel the need to share some of the good stuff with you since I don't have time to comment on it throughout the blog.

This stuff shows up in my Google RSS Reader throughout the week and I use the widget from my "shared items" in my Google Reader to post the most interesting information that I've gathered from the web. Enjoy some fun, entertaining and provocative reading. (my shared items have their own individual rss feed that you can subscribe to directly)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Feel


A couple of weeks ago I went to my mailbox and received a pleasant surprise - a book in the mail! The book, called "Feel" is written by Mathew Elliot. I wasn't familiar with the book, nor the author but on the jacket were recommendations from men I highly respect such as professor Steve Brown and author Randy Alcorn. Now my curiosity was peeked. But as I began to read this book, my initial curiosity was replaced with excitement and enthusiasm.

Why was I excited? Because this book couldn't have come at a more timely moment in my life. This past year God has been doing a fresh work on my heart. And although I don't have the capacity to share all that God has done, suffice it say - I have allowed God to do some renovation work and open my heart and as a result learning how to feel in new ways.

That is the premise of this book - the power of listening to one's heart. In the book, Elliot unpacks the modern church's penchant which teaches us to suppress our emotions and to distrust feelings.

In "Feel", Elliot encourages us to get in touch with our emotional side, by using various Biblical examples. Elliot says it is difficult, if not impossible to "have life, and to have it more abundantly" if we simply keep all our emotions hidden.

This quote from A.W. Tozer used by Elliot, communicates the power and importance of the heart and feelings.
But many spiritual leaders through the centuries got it right. We need to recapture some of the truths they taught. In the words of A.W. Tozer, 'A state of emotion always comes between the knowledge and the act...God intended that truth should move us to moral action. The mind receives ideas, mental pictures of things as they are. These excite the feelings and these in turn move the will to act in accordance with the truth...But be sure that human feelings can never be completely stifled. If they are forbidden their normal course, like a river they will cut another channel through the life and flow out to curse and ruin and destroy.'
One cool addition in Elliot's book are the "Blog" comments and real life testimonies at the end of each chapter. That feature gives the book an interactive feel and personal touch.

Besides having read Jonathan Edwards' classic book, "Religious Affections", I haven't come across many, if any, books that have been willing to address this subject in such a comprehensive and honest way.

"Feel" is definitely worth the read and a worthwhile investment in your spiritual journey. You can order the book HERE.

Also, you will definitely want to visit his website at FaithfulFeelings.

At his website, Mathew has provided a very helpful study guide that you can download for small groups and for personal study.

Today

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Need Your Help and Opinions!

Attention Readers of ProvocativeChurch!

We are currently looking to overhauling our Church Information Managment System at Big Creek Church. We currently use PowerChurch and we have been displeased with it for many reasons. We are looking at and examining two alternative systems that we want to put into place within the year.

Fellowship One

ACS Technologies

Have you and your church used either one? Thoughts, opinions, concerns? Are there issues with these that I need to be aware of.

Up to now, we have received demos of both programs. Now we want to visit several "end-users" and will be scheduling visits to local churches that use these programs.

Thanks for your help!

What is an Evangelical?

What is an Evangelical?

That’s the latest question in the Washington Post/Newsweek forum On Faith. The question is brought about by the publication of An Evangelical Manifesto. Respondents include N.T. Wright, Cal Thomas, Chuck Colson, and Martin Marty.

This topic about the meaning of the label "Evangelical" has been floating around for a while. In fact, over a year ago, I posted about the same issue. You can read my previous post about whether the label Evangelical has lost it's meaning.

Here is an excerpt from that post:

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.

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

(ht: Tullian Tchividjian)

Crisis in the American Church?


There has been a lot of buzz about David T. Olson's new book, The American Church in Crisis (Zondervan, 2008). Olson is the director of the American Research Project and director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church.

His book is loaded with charts, graphs and sidebars, and his research is based(as are his conclusions) on his study of a national database of some 200,000 churches.

And the upshot of his research - there is cause for concern.

For instance, despite some optimistic polls that otherwise suggest the American church is thriving, Olson writes,

"On any given Sunday, the vast majority of Americans are absent from church and if trends ccontinue, by 2050, the percentage of Americans attending church will be
half (of what it was in 1990)."

I know that in Metro Atlanta, in the heart of the "Bible Belt", there are over 70 Mega-churches (defined by 2,000+) and one would think that almost "everyone goes to church". And yet in our county, only 15.7% of the population actually go to church. We are not as "churched" as we are often led to believe.

According to Olsen, to avoid this dismal future, "the American church must engage with...three critical transitions ...which have altered the relationship between American culture and the church." Namely, Olsen defines these critical transitions as:
1. The transition from a Christian to a post-Christian society;

2. The transition from a modern to a post-modern society;

3. The transition from a mono-ethnic to a multi-ethnic society.

Of course, transitions 1. and 2. have long been foreseen and understood. It's transition 3. - the new kid on the block - that's getting increased attention from researchers, writers, theologians and practitioners, etc., alike.

According to Olson, it's not only what's needed; it's the future.

He writes,

"In the mono-ethnic world, Christians, pastors and churches only had to understand their own culture. Ministering in a homogeneous cultures is easier, but mono-ethnic Christianity can gradually become culture-bound....In the multi-ethnic world, pastors, churches and Christians need to operate under the rules of the early church's mission to the Gentiles."

But this is the "money" quote:
"As the power center of (global) Christianity moves south and east, the multi-ethnic church is becoming the normal and natural picture of the new face of Christianity."
This is the NEW FACE of CHRISTIANITY in AMERICA. If you are threatened by the idea of a church that is going to be less Anglo and more diverse, then this won't perceived as good news. But if you believe and know that the heart of Christ and the gospel is a church for the nations, then it becomes exciting to see the church transformed from ethnic and cultural parochialism to seeing it transformed into a multi-ethnic mosaic.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I Want my Religion!

Perhaps you are familiar with the series of Burger King commercials in which they play a trick on their customers by telling them they were no longer serving Whoppers. It was funny because when people don’t get what they expect, they can do some pretty outlandish things. So what do people expect when they go to church? One church decided to experiment with this concept. There are several commercials below. Don’t Freak Out!





Too often people want their safe and innocuous "religion". But is that what Jesus calls us to? No, certainly not! Becoming a Christ-follower isn't about consuming a religious product and merely sitting and soaking in the pews. Rather it is a call to give our lives away. We are called to pour out our lives. This is an overflow of Jesus having poured out his life for us on the cross.

(ht: Mark)

We are number ONE!

The problem is that many Atlanta drivers are making that point with the use of one particular finger - which happens to be an obscene gesture.

Here are the facts from the AJC.com
Courteous? Not drivers around Atlanta -Survey says we are No. 1 in several sins of the road.

Driving too fast, tailgating, making cell phone calls while driving, making obscene gestures to other drivers. According to a national survey, no one does these things more than metro Atlanta drivers.

Contentment

"...the man to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more."
- Columbanus, Irish, 7th century

In the 1920’s, a reporter asked John Rockefeller: “How much is enough?” His answer was fascinating: “Just a little bit more.”
-Quoted by Albert Mohler

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment..."

- 1 Timothy 6.9

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Four Missional Movements for the Suburban Church


Todd Hiestand pastor of The Well church has been studying the book of Acts. Through it Todd has identified four movements that God calls us to. Here are his thoughts - excellent stuff:

From Individual to Communal

As individuals we are important, very, very important. But we need to continually celebrate the individual but we must do it within the context of community. Our world is so individualized that we’ve lost a sense that there is something greater than ourselves. In our culture, this is a challenge because we are so good at isolating ourselves and disconnecting ourselves from the rest of the world. Our priorities can easily become very selfish and insulated.

From Consumptive to Cooperative

When you live in a world that holds individualism as a god you naturally going to find that consuming is a higher priority than cooperative. If the most important thing is me, than I am going to do my best to take care of me. But, if the most important thing is me, in the context of community than we can start thinking about cooperation together for a common goal.

Event to Family

We need to rethink our definition of “church.” When we come to “church” as an individual who is primarily a consumer we begin to view church as an “event” where we can consume spirituality or religion to meet our own personal needs. The alternative here is to move from church as event to church as family. When we approach “church” as individuals in a community where we are cooperating together for a common goal its almost impossible to think of church as an event. Instead a better metaphor for church, as we have talked about at The Well a lot recently, is “family.” A family cooperating together to care together for the individual needs, all for a common goal.

From Sucking in to Sending out

The idea of a common goal then leads us to the final movement. The challenge of the family metaphor in the church setting is to not become all cliquish and even worse cultish. But, when you take a group of individuals, who are here to consume and think of the “church” as a event, you end up with a “church” that is sucking in rather than sending out. We’re all drawn into a Sunday event and leave behind our primary mission field. But, when we view the “church” as a community that is dependent on each other and cooperates together, it is not naturally seen as something that sucks in but instead sends out.

Re-read Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This is the mission that drives the early church (and should drive our churches as well!).

This cannot be done if the church is an random collection of individuals who are coming to an event to consume Christianity. But, this mission can be accomplished if “church is defined as a family that cooperates together for a greater purpose.

Todd, I couldn't have said it any better myself!

(ht: Todd Hiestand)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Communion Meditations


At Big Creek Church we celebrate communion weekly, you can read the theological and practical reasons are from this series of posts on the Lord's Supper, part 1; part 2; part 3.

These are our communion meditations that we post on the screen to provide an opportunity of meditation and contemplation during the Lord's Supper.

Malachi 3:5 (NIV) "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.

Luke 20:46 (NIV) "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.47 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."

Only that fellowship which faces (such) disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-9:
We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

Author and preacher Tony Campolo said that when his wife, Peggy, was at home full-time with their children and someone would ask, "And what is it that you do, my dear?" she would respond, "I am socializing two Homo sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia that God willed from the beginning of creation." Then Peggy would ask the other person, "And what do you do?" -John Ortberg and Ruth Haley, An Ordinary Day with Jesus(Zondervan, 2001)

Happy Mother's Day



This is a tribute to my wonderful wife and the mother of our two daughters. You are loved!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Caught in the Act


As you may know that according to the official Blogging handbook, a blogger must submit at least one post about their cat at least one time a year. So here is my obligatory cat post. Ginger, our cat, making a home on my office floor on a bed of receipts.

Isn't she cuuuuttteee!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Georgia Blogging Carnival

The new Carnival is up and features works from local bloggers. Check it out.

Georgia Blogging Carnival

My Brother Rick gets face time on local T.V.

My brother's Cake Design business, CakeLava, got featured on the local news.

CLICK HERE to view the video.

Also here are some photos taken the day of Rick being filmed by the channel 2 news.

Here he is working on his signature all-bamboo cake.







Thoughts on Discipleship that make you go "Hmm.."



Here are some discipleship truisms from my blogger friend Ron up in New York. At Big Creek Church we are currently attempting to get our arms around discipleship, therefore I found Ron's thoughts good fodder in provoking some of my thinking and as a springboard for my thoughts on discipleship. I hope Ron wouldn't mind me adding a couple of caveats and additions to his thoughts, all of which I have included in bold italics.

Here they are: 

Information doesn't guarantee transformation. Information alone doesn't change people. If it does, what's our excuse? (Never before has the church been so resourced.) There's been a big disconnect between the head and the heart. Very true, discipleship isn't merely about information download. Too often we have treated discipleship like a classroom. But Jesus didn't disciple in a classroom. It was life on life. With life on life spiritual investment comes true, meaningful and real spiritual transformation. 

Never equate longevity with maturity. It is possible to be in the church a long time but not have increasing evidence of Jesus' indwelling. Any congregation can become a spiritual club, where graytops are merely infants in diapers. I heard a friend say that too many people in the church suffer from the Sponge Bob problem - they just come to church to sit and soak. If that is all people do, they will never grow. Spiritual transformation is never passive.
The measurement of discipleship is obedience. Nothing more, nothing less. I would add this qualifier that we don't want obedience stemming from legalism, but rather a person whose heart and life is captured by the love of the gospel. It is true that discipleship isn't merely about "knowing", but we must be "applying", otherwise it falls short. 

Personal charisma doesn't guarantee transformation. You can be a nice guy and still be a damned nice guy. Having spiritual manners -- even some spiritual sensitivity -- doesn't make you mature. Nice people are adept at fooling others. Of course it is true that external niceness doesn't necessarily indicate internal heart transformation. People can wear masks and be posers. Discipleship demands that we are willing to delve beyond external behavior and manners and get deep into matter of the heart.

Disciples aren't made effectively in classes. There's no way around it: time, time, more time. Coffee, coffee, more coffee. One conversation, then another. Classes are components but shouldn't be the main method. Disciples are made within the messiness of real life. There is no substitute for it. People want to see how faith intersects real issues, struggles and challenges in life. You can't teach that in a classroom.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Burn Out Mantra


The simple burnout deterrence mantra:

1. I am not invincible. I can get sick, sin, and weary.

2. I am not immortal. I am going to die.

3. I am not indispensable. The kingdom keeps going without me.

4. I am not an island. I need friends around me.

Reminding yourself of these brief sentences will inoculate yourself against the temptation of trying to do it all in one's own power. All of these are key, but number 4 particularly resonates with me. Pastors are some of the loneliest and isolated people.

We are not called to this journey alone. Praise God that I have several men in my life that I am sharing my joys, struggles and burdens with. I know that without them, that I would be in dire straits. It is not to say though that it comes easy. It requires a lot of work and intention in order for it to happen.

Who are your friends? Do you find it hard to cultivate real, authentic and meaningful friendships?


(ht: Bob roberts Jr.’s The Multiplying Church)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Mission of the Church

"Mission of the church is nothing more or less than the outworking, in the power of the Spirit, of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. It is the anticipation of the time when God will fill the earth with his glory, transform the old heavens and earth into the new, and raise his children from the dead to populate and rule over the redeemed world he has made”
- N.T. Wright


Colin Hansen via Christianity Today

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Information Overload

Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I've come across. I feel the need to share some of the good stuff with you since I don't have time to comment on it throughout the blog.

This stuff shows up in my Google RSS Reader throughout the week and I use the widget from my "shared items" in my Google Reader to post the most interesting information that I've gathered from the web. Enjoy some fun, entertaining and provocative reading. (my shared items have their own individual rss feed that you can subscribe to directly)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Faith makes people poor?

The Bible is holding conservative Protestants back financially. So says Duke University Sociologist Lisa Keister. According to data analyzed by Keister, the median net worth for conservative Protestants in 2000 was $26,000, compared to the national median of $66,200. Keister accounts for the gap by pointing to the nearly 2,000 verses in the New Testament that touch on the topic of money such as Jesus’ injunction to not “store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” For Keister these teachings mean diminished net worth for followers. “The one big difference is the conservative Protestants’ assumption that God is the owner of money and people are managers of it. They are doing with their money what God wants them to do with it, so that does mean that it is not sitting in their bank accounts.”
(ht: usatoday.com, 4/24/08 )
What do you think of Keister's conclusions? Should "net worth" be Christian's ultimate goal and end game?


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Day of Prayer and Fasting

As many of you know already I've been taking the ongoing discipline of every other month going on a all day prayer and fasting retreat. This past Wednesday, I took that prayer and fasting retreat. The retreat lasts 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.

During my time I began to read and meditate on Isaiah 40:12-31. I really slowed down and let God's Word wash over me and soak in. As I did this, I got to verse 28-31, a very familiar passage. But I didn't let this familiar passage just fly by me unnoticed. Rather I took the time and meditated on this passage and because I did, God spoke through His Word in a very powerful way. Here is the passage:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
God does not grow weary, yet I am too often weary and tired. Why? Because I am operating out of pride, which manifests itself in self-sufficiency. It says, "I can do it all!" "I don't need anyone, or anything". I repented of that pride and knew that I had been economizing my relationship with Him. I was having "drive-by" devotionals. I've been letting my busyness overtake me. I have become weary and tired.

In the verse is a "BUT". But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. To hope in the Lord is to abide in Him. It is to cling to him out of dependence. Strength will only come to me when I am clinging to the vine (John 15). As I cling to Him, he can work in and through me by the work of His Holy Spirit.

Then later in my time I came across this prayer from A.W. Tozer which I prayed over and over, and which I want to make an ongoing prayer. It is a prayer of surrender. Here it is:
“O God, be thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee.

Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that Thou mayest increase, let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, `Hosanna in the highest’.”
Needless to say, it was a time of refreshment and renewal. Every time I leave there, I am always glad that I made the investment.

By the way, here are some pictures of the beautiful trails near the Chattahoochee River that are on the retreat site:





N.T. Wright in Atlanta



Earlier I had posted that I was going to hear N.T. Wright at Emory University. I did go, but the crowds were so big and the seating venue was sooo small, that I, with many others, only got to see him via video or listen to the audio over the hallway speakers. That was a bit of a disappointment. If you didn't have a chance to go, I am told that this talk in Boston is nearly identical to the speech he gave at Emory. Enjoy!


Friday, May 02, 2008

Iron Man opens today!

Use Them or Lose Them

Recent surveys indicate more than half of the baby boomer population wants the rest of their lives to count for something more significant. They want to invest the rest of their lives for the betterment of their families, their communities, and their world. This segment of the population is not only huge, but more than half of them want to give back to others.

For the church aware of these realities, the boomer could well represent the largest labor force for the kingdom the church has ever seen. These men and women probably will serve willingly in the traditional ways (ushering, greeting, sitting on boards, teaching classes, etc.), but if these are the only offerings you have, then many of them will find greater opportunities to give back to the community outside the church. This is what the baby boomer means when he says to the church,

"Use me or lose me." They would prefer to get involved in something significant in the church, but if the church has too little to offer, they will find opportunities elsewhere. (Leadership Network Advance 3/25/08)

I am suggesting that a one size answer fits all, but as we have been working hard on moving discipleship in and through our church in a organic and relational way - I think that may be an answer. Discipleship. Mentoring. Whatever you want to call it, it is life on life investment. That is how the Boomers could serve. They could pour their life into others. Perhaps younger men or women or even invest in peer-to-peer discipleship. What a way to serve that is truly significant and meaningful!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What is the Church?

ArchBishop Rowan Williams on “What is the church?” in 1 minute.



Simple. Your thoughts?

(ht: SetsnService)

What happens when you are the victim of injustice?

Did you hear the story about Kinetic Church in Charlotte, NC? A few weeks ago, a thief stole a trailer containing 75% of the church’s equipment.

Obviously, the church body took the loss hard. But what’s interesting are the ways in which Kinetic Church responded through both old media (these billboards) and new media (the YouTube video below). What do you think about Kinetic Church’s campaign to communicate with the person or persons who have done them harm?


(ht: Collide Magazine)