Monthly Archives: April 2010

Gut Check!

I’m tired.  Just plain tired.

Maybe it’s time to admit something.  Something bad about me.  Maybe it’s inside of you too.  Maybe it’s time that all the followers of Christ, admit that there’s this little piece inside of us that just shouldn’t be there.  The piece that tempts us to separate ourselves from everyone else.  And not in a good, “holy” way either.

It’s a little piece of religious superiority.  That piece tells us, “I have this right and you obviously don’t.”  It tempts us to boast in ourselves as if we have it all figured out.  It’s what we think to ourselves when we go home on a Sunday afternoon…

“I bet God really enjoyed that today.  Music was great.  My sermon was fantastic.  I bet God saw me with my hands raised and eyes closed.  I sure hope (insert name of spiteful deacon you are at odds with) saw me.  Then maybe he’ll figure out what he should be doing.  I’m sure glad that God is one the same page with me.  I bet He was really proud of me today.”

It makes me wonder.  How much different would Christianity look today, if all followers of Christ would remove that little piece of pious, self-righteousness?  Would we be making a bigger impact in the world?  Would we still be viewed as hypocritical or judgmental if we had a proper understanding of ourselves before God?  Could it be that because we misrepresent ourselves, as better than we really are, that we miss opportunities with people that God loves?

When we live and allow this piece of sin to thrive in our hearts, eventually we begin to live above the Gospel.  We begin to think that we deserved the Gospel.  And that That we are worthy of the Good News of Jesus Christ and that those who aren’t as “good” as us, are either less deserving or not deserving at all.

Are we missing opportunities to share Jesus with the prostitute, drug addict, rapist, child molester, homosexual, serial killer, cannibal, stripper, thief and terrorist, because we are wrapped up in our own piety?

Read what God tells His people in the book of Amos.

Amos 5:21-23 (NLT) – I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.  I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.  I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.  Away with your noisy hymns of praise!  I will not listen to the music of your harps.  Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.

Can I ask you some questions?  If you don’t want time to look inside of yourself, feel free to skip this part?

Sunday is coming.  How’s your heart?

Is it pure?

Are you ready to be in the presence of the holy, perfect, living God?

Do you exist as a Christian for the show of your own self-righteousness or for the radical forgiveness offered to all humanity through Jesus?

Who will God hear first on Sunday morning; you or the broken person, lying in a pool of tears on their bed?

So you see, I’m tired.  Tired of pretending.  Tired of acting like we as Christians have it all figured out.

Are you tired?

More Reading!

Earlier this year I posted a short blog with some of what I have been reading lately.  You can check that blog out here.  Untamed

I’m on to some new books now.  I have a long list of books I’d like to read.  I just started reading a book by Alan and Debra Hirsch called, “Untamed.”  So far it has been a fantastic read.  If you like church and your Christianity, as-is, then this isn’t a book for you.  There are definitely some challenging things in the book and will push your view of discipleship to the edge.


I’m also going to read “Exponential” by Dave and Jon Ferguson.  I don’t know anything about the book, other than I picked it up while at the Exponential Conference in Orlando.  So my guess is, it has something to do with that.  Either way, I’m excited about diving into it.

Plan B

And the last book that is on my immediate radar is “Plan B” by Pete Wilson.  I have been following Pete on twitter for quite a while now.  I really enjoy the stuff he posts and am excited about getting into this book as well.  Since I was able to grab a free copy at Exponential, Pete even signed it for me.  ^_^

Okay, so those are a few of the books on my radar screen.  What about you?  Any new reads?

Exponential – Day 4!

Today was the final day of Exponential Conference 2010.  I am blessed to have been able to be a part of it.

The day started in a phenomenal way.  At Dunkin’ Donuts. Large coffee, breakfast sandwich and a donut to top it off.  Excellent start to the day.

I came in the door a little late, but I was able to catch the last of Alan Hirsch and his workshop.  He strikes me as a man with great humility.  He knows who he is in God’s Kingdom and he has this amazing humility that comes across in his teaching.  His main passion is discipleship and bringing biblical discipleship to a Western context.  When his workshop was over, I went and introduced myself to him.  I thanked him for his work and his teaching this week.  He was very kind and chatted with me for a little bit.  I was very appreciative of him taking that time to talk with me.

Then it was time for our last main session.  The week seemed to be building to this point.  Francis Chan was going to be closing the conference.

Before he came on the stage, there was a fantastic introduction for him.  All week long, there was a funny guy who was interviewing people and making us all laugh.  And this year, he decided to give Francis Chan a very special introduction.

After the laughter died down, Francis Chan blew us (me) away.  He poured out his heart in a very passionate way.  He shared about how God has been working in his life and where he feels God is leading him and his wife.  I felt like he was letting me in to his world and shared very personally, what God was teaching him.  It was very powerful.

It was an emotional and powerful end to the week.  From there, it was off to lunch and then to the airport to catch a flight home.

This experience was incredible and I can’t wait to go back next year.

God is on the move in amazing ways and places.  I am so blessed to be a part of it.

Exponential – Day 3!

So this is how the morning of Day 3 looked.  As you can see, we’re off to a glorious start.

We started a little earlier today.  No big deal, I was going to grab some Dunkin’ Donuts.  I was only mildly depressed when we ran out of time and I couldn’t grab my donut and coffee.

First thing at the conference today was a main worship session.  Ken Blanchard, a fantastic author, spoke to us for a few minutes.  This lead into Matt Chandler.  He is a fantastic speaker with an amazing passion.  I was mostly impressed with his testimony.  After a malignant brain tumor was found, he is undergoing chemotherapy.  He is in a 12 month round of chemo right now.  He has an amazing attitude and is boldly praying for God to completely heal him.  You should Google him and follow his story.  His story will inspire you.

Then it was off to our next workshop.

I made my way to Neil Cole’s session on Transformational Groups.  It was fascinating study on how groups and organic communities work in the church.  I am very intrigued by his methodology and am looking forward to exploring it more.  One of the biggest things I took from his session was his research on how we make disciples of Jesus Christ.  I don’t have the time and space to go into that here, but if you want to know more, comment me and we can chat offline.

After a quick lunch it was back into the groove with another main session.

This time around was one of the most powerful one hour and thirty minutes of my life.  It started with a passionate warm up by Reggie McNeal.  He was very passionate about missional churches.  Missional is simply acting like a missionary everywhere you go.  Rather than assuming church is a noun (a place you go), church is a verb.  Church is something you do, something you are to everyone around you.  In the work place, at school, in the grocery store, at the PTA meeting.  The church is a verb.

Then, there was this extremely calm moment.  A pastor from St. Paul, Minnesota, got up to speak.  He’s kind of a quiet, shy guy.  His name is Efrem Smith.  If you can’t read tone, please read sarcasm in his introduction.  Efrem Smith is probably the most passionate speaker I have ever heard.  His style is far more motivational than anything else.  I might not remember a point he made, or a specific thing he said, but I know that as I listened to him, I was re-energized to go out and “save the world.”  He is the kind of guy, every Christian should have the privilege of hearing at least once.  He is fantastic!

Next was a think tank with Alan Hirsch, Shane Claiborne and Neil Cole.  This was an opportunity to watch them in an interview format and also ask some of our own questions.  Alan Hirsch has a book out called “The Forgotten Ways.”  I am going to be reading this one very soon.  I have heard nothing but amazing things about the book.  Alan struck me as a very humble, gentle man with a huge heart for reaching people in organic communities for Jesus Christ.  I can’t wait to learn and hear more from him.  Shane Claiborne was also a new name to me.  He is doing some incredible things in the name of Jesus in his community.  A young man was shot and killed on his street.  He held the young boy in his arms right after he was shot.  He was their on the front lines to bring Jesus to the neighborhood and this young man’s family.  It is a very inspiring story.  Neil Cole was there as well and I briefly mentioned him above.  His organic churches have spread all over the world.  Meeting in homes, groups of people have begun to spread.  He said they lost track of how many organic communities were a part of their church when it reached 400.  All over the world, 400 organic groups meet in homes under his leadership.  He has experienced rapid growth in this decentralized model of church.  His story is another that is very inspiring to me.

Then we were off to our last main session for the day.

It started with a lady named Brenda Salter McNeil.  She has written some fantastic stuff, specifically designed for women.  She was a passionate speaker and very excited about churches working in the community.  I won’t offer a “deep analysis” here (whatever “deep” means for me) of what I thought of a few of her points.  For now I’ll leave it at she was very passionate and inspiring to take the message of Jesus deeper into our communities.  She was followed by Shane Claiborne who did some more straight forward speaking.  He was also very passionate about taking Jesus into our communities.  I liked him for many reasons, but my favorite reason was his dreads.  I’m inspired to do that to my hair now.  What do you think about that, Misty?  Then Dave Gibbons spoke for the last 30 minutes or so.  Most people go to conferences to either learn or to be built up and encouraged in a work.  This is exactly what this entire group at Exponential have done  this year.  Dave Gibbons was no exception.  You can hear in him a very deep passion for getting to the souls of people.  He wants people to know Jesus.  This passion comes out in his speaking.

As we were leaving, we were told that a book by Pete Wilson was being given away, free.  There were only a couple hundred copies though.  I follow Pete on twitter and enjoy reading his stuff.  So I was very excited to get my hands on this book.  Picture this with me if you will.  You are outside with your family on a hot summer day.  All the neighborhood kids are out playing in the sun.  Some are riding bikes, others are shooting each other with squirt guns.  Some are just running around and playing tag.  Just imagine this scene for a minute.  Then, in the distance, you can hear it.  It’s faint at first, but it’s sound is unmistakable.  It grows louder and louder.  Before long, you notice that its sound can be heard even over the sound of children playing.  Why?  Because they begin stopping, one at a time, and putting their ear to the sky, listening intently to the sound.  It’s music playing.  The most unmistakable music on the planet.  It’s the sound of the ice cream truck.

Now, can you picture those kids, flocking to the ice cream truck?  Can you see them nearly overturning the vehicle in their haste to get ice cream?  Can you hear the excitement in their tone as the pitch goes up and the volume follows.  Kids scream, “Mom, look what I got.  Hey dad, look.  A Superman Popsicle.”  Have that picture in your mind?

Now picture this.  A conference with over 3000 church planters from all over the world hear an announcement that there is a free book available.  But there are only a couple hundred of them.  You should have seen the mad dash out of the auditorium.  Running of the Bulls has nothing on this.

As I was strategically seated in this particular session, I was at the front of the line.  Then, in a great moment, Pete Wilson signed my book.  Yes, God has been good to me these last couple of days.

But the number one lesson of the day; never get in the way of a group of church planters and a free book.

Then it was off to dinner and some great staff bonding time back at the room.  What happens in Orlando, stays in Orlando.  ^_^

That’s all for tonight.  I’ll hit you all up tomorrow on the 4th and final day of Exponential Conference 2010.

Exponential – Day 2!

Today was an amazing day.  There are some of the most gifted speakers in the church here in Orlando, right now.  It is an electric atmosphere.

It started around 9.  Finished up the day one, intensive pre-conference with Tim Stevens.  He had fantastic thoughts strategic planning relating to volunteers.  God’s Kingdom relies upon the amazing work of volunteers.  And I can’t thank the volunteers at New Life Haymarket Campus enough for all they do.  I will be showing them a lot more love when I get home.

Then it was off to lunch.  Before I got there, I bumped into a man you may have heard of.  His name is Francis Chan.  That was really cool.  P. F. Chang’s was fantastic.  If you haven’t eaten there yet, I highly recommend them.  I even bumped into a friend of mine and his wife, Chad & Kara Simpkins.  I came on at New Life as the Haymarket Campus Pastor and had two months of transition time with Chad.  He is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina planting a church now.  I consider him a good friend and it was good to see him again.

Back at the main conference site, they were gearing up for the first main session.  Worship from the crew at Mosaic Church was off the charts.  Then Mark Batterson gave us the toughest 10 minute sermon I’ve ever heard.  He was immediately followed by a slightly well known author and church planter, Louie Giglio.  He gave the best, most passionate message on the power of the Holy Spirit I have ever heard.  I was speechless and very convicted when he was done.

My day could have ended there, but it was off to two afternoon workshops.

First, I went to a workshop on social media and the church.  Should the church be afraid of social media or utilize it to help bring the amazing message of Jesus Christ to where people already are.  I’m all for social media and I use it like crazy.  I only hope to be able to use it effectively.  Kem Meyer taught and she was great.  Then it was off my second workshop.  It was all about keeping your marriage healthy in the context of when you are church planting.  Dan & Shannon Smith, formerly on staff at New Life, did a fantastic job.  Their talk was designed to help couples keep their marriages healthy and fresh in the context of church planting.  I was inspired to be a better husband.  The afternoon was unbelievable and I’m stoked for the rest of the week.  Can’t wait to hear what God has to say to me through these people.

Just put me to bed now.  My day was complete.  Until, our crew stopped at Cuba Libre for dinner.  I don’t know enough words in the English language to adequately describe how delicious my steak was.  I’ll leave it at that.  If you’re ever in Orlando, you need to head south on International Drive, past Sea World.  There are some out of this world, places to eat.  I’m going home at least 5 pounds heavier, and I don’t even care.

Now, I’m chilling in the room, hanging with the guys, decompressing from a great day.

I’ll be back tomorrow night for a Day 3 recap!  Night!

Exponential – Day 1!

I have heard about the Exponential Conference before, but have never been able to attend.  This year I have the chance.

Exponential is a Church Planting Conference.  Some of the best people in church plants come together to encourage each other and to get their hands on church planting resources.  Not to mention it is in Orlando, Florida this year. That’s hard to beat.

Day started early, 5:00 am early.  Not my favorite time of day to be honest.  Flight left for Orlando from Washington Dulles around 9 am.  Pretty sure I left my green jacket in the concourse.  So if you’re at Gate B70, keep an eye out for my green, Estes Park jacket.  Thanks.

The airport in Orlando is beautiful.  Definitely gets you in the tropical, beach feel right away.  Complete with the glass ceiling and palm trees throughout, it’s quite the place.

Went straight from there to an hour wait for our rental car at Thrifty.  Thanks, Thrifty, for being super speedy.

Pre-Conference with Tim Stevens.  He has some fantastic material on volunteer strategies.  Maybe I’ll buy his book.  Then I’ll have some new material for the plane ride home on Thursday.  Tim is a part of Granger Community Church in Indiana.  God has been blessing them in big ways.  Great church!  I even met Kem Meyer.  Life might be complete if she starts following me on Twitter.  ^_^

Then it was time for dinner.  And holy cow, was I ready for dinner.  So the search began for dinner in Orlando.  Our staff landed at B. B. King’s restaurant.  Put that one on your bucket list.  Yum!  Live blues too.  B. B. King himself will be there on May 4th & 10th.  Plan a quick vacation to Orlando for that.

Overall, I would say Day 1 at Exponential has been a success.  Now I’m exhausted.  Need I remind you I was up at 5 am.  Not my time of day.

I miss my family already, but left them with a fun treasure hunt game to play everyday while I’m gone.

I’ll talk to you again at the end of Day 2.

Good night.

Chocolate Covered Duh!

It’s amazing how far we will go to find purpose.  It’s amazing where we will look to find answers for this life.  Inside each of us is a struggle to find answers to spiritual things.  Don’t believe me?  Just look around you.  Look at all the different worldviews that are available for consumption.  Look at the book titles that vie for your attention and offer answers.  Look at the many faiths that offer fulfillment and purpose for your life.  We are in a struggle, a spiritual struggle.

Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) – “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

Our world is seeking answers to spiritual things.  And it’s a battle.

The one that has been driving me most crazy recently, are horoscopes.

Aren’t they cute?  I mean, you can get them in a facebook app and everything.  You can find them in a newspaper or your favorite magazine.  Leo, Sagittarius and Capricorn, they are pop-culture icons that are being embraced by many as an answer to life’s daily questions.  If only I look out for this particular relationship, or if I really stand up for myself today, then everything will be okay.  Thanks horoscope.  You were always there for me.  I can even get my own Personal Astrology Profile.  I can find what makes me truly unique based on how the planets were aligned at the exact moment of my birth.

Horoscopes/Astrology aren’t just a cute fun thing to help us get through the day.  At the core of the philosophy, there is a search for purpose and meaning.  There is a search for spiritual answers to life.  There is a search for something greater, something bigger than us.

But if I’m really going to find the purpose for my life, I must find the One who created my life.  I can’t find the purpose for my Rolls Royce (I don’t actually have a Rolls Royce) at the corner, 7-Eleven.  That convenience store can’t provide for me anything that will help discover an answer to a Rolls Royce problem.  The true purpose and understanding of the way a Rolls Royce works must come from those who created it.  I must find the answers to who I am, my purpose, why I am on this earth, from the One who created me.  These answers must come from God.

And this is why it’s a spiritual battle.

Not to mention the obvious reason why horoscopes are a waste of time.  Here is my horoscope for today, April 14th, 2010;

Your social energy is drawing the right people to you today, and it should be pretty straightforward — though one of the newer people in your life may spin your head with a bright idea!

This is about as vague as a Chinese fortune cookie.  There is nothing specific here for me.  It is common sense that two heads are better than one.  One person can have a bright idea, but put two or three people together to brainstorm on a topic and the result will be far greater than any one person can come up with alone.  This is not new information, you’re just retelling me what I already know.  I won’t be surprised if my horoscope some day says, “Don’t point a loaded gun at your face and pull the trigger.  The results could be deadly.”

What?  No way.  Guess what my horoscope said today.

The sin, yes I said the “s” word, of horoscopes is not that they’re cute or try to get people through the day, but that they distract us from the One who created us for a purpose.  They turn our attention away from the God who loves us and designed us to accomplish incredible things.  Anything that turns our attention away from God is a form of idolatry and the Bible calls idolatry, sin.

Are you a follower of Christ?  Are you on a search through spiritual things?  Are you undecided about what “the answer” is?  I want to encourage you to seek God.  To find answers in Him.  To come to a complete understanding that spiritual answers in this life can only come from the One who created us.  Rolls Royce manuals aren’t found at 7-Eleven.  Our purpose can’t be found in anything less than the One who created us and knows exactly what our purpose is.

Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) – “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

Livin Like A Missionary!

When it comes to Christian terminology, it is interesting that most Christians think that many of the terms don’t apply to them.  For instance, are you a minister?  Most Christians will look at that question and say, “No, I’m not a minister.  I sit in a church and listen to my minister preach every Sunday.  I’m just a “regular” Christian.”  Or here is another term.  Are you a missionary?  “Oh no, I’m not a missionary.  I live in (insert name of any American city).  Our church supports missionaries, but they are overseas or at least outside of the United States.

My man, Jody May, explores this topic further.  The following is his blog post from over at Your Next Steps.  I would encourage you to read his blog as well.  He has some thought provoking stuff.

So let’s first explain what is a missionary;

Main Entry: 1mis·sion·ary

Pronunciation: \ˈmi-shə-ˌner-ē\

Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural mis·sion·ar·ies
Date: 1625
: a person undertaking a mission and especially a religious mission
It means to view our Christian lives as;
  • Living among foreigners that do not think or view the world as we do.
  • That we have a purpose here which means you need to know what that is.  How much time have you spent in trying to develop it?
  • We are to be a part of the culture, not the world, so we have relevance.  What’s the last movie you saw?   What are you reading?
  • This is not our home so don’t fall in love with it.
  • You obey local laws but you have to answer to a higher authority that is separate.
  • You do not judge others based on your beliefs because they operate under their own set of values.
  • Not judging does not mean not to differentiate between right and wrong and to help them see that.
  • We are here to educate, train, and lead which helps us as much as it helps them.
  • Your goal is to let them know that they can belong to something bigger than themselves.
It’s called missional living.  Michael, the Lead Pastor at Oak Leaf wrote about it on his blog as well if you need more of an explanation.
If you are a Christian you are a missionary so your job is to be among the lost and make a difference.  Check out Jesus’ parting words and see what He thinks about it.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19,20
If you are brave enough today why don’t you leave me a comment and tell me who you are being a ‘missionary’ to.
Truth be told, if you call yourself a Christian, or follower of Christ, you are a missionary.  You are a called person.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get to it.

Easter Story

What an incredible moment tonight.  It isn’t very often that a dad gets a moment like I had.  Well, I guess they come to fathers and mothers alike, you just have to be ready for them.

I sat down to tell my kids the Easter story tonight.  I wanted to share with them what it is we celebrate and why.  Grant was on my left.  Ashton was on my right.  And Avary was sitting attentively on my lap.

It started simple; God, Jesus, Bible.  All the “Sunday School” stuff.

Then I started talking specifically about Jesus.

Me- “About 2000 years ago, some men killed Jesus.”

Avary threw her hands over her mouth and said, “Oh no.”

Me- “It’s okay.  I need to finish telling you the story.  These men put Jesus on a cross and they killed Him.”

Avary with her hands still over her mouth and eyes tearing up.  “But I loved Jesus and now He’s dead.”

Me- “Let me finish the story.  It gets better.”

Ashton- “How did He die?’

Me- “They put Him on a cross and crucified Him.  They put nails in His hands and feet and He died.  That was 2000 years ago.  Then something happened that we will celebrate tomorrow morning.  He rose from the dead.”

Avary finally removes her hands from her mouth.  Her whole face lit up and she said, “Oh, I’m so happy.”  She dropped her head on my chest, hugged and kissed me.  Then said, “I love Jesus.”

Isn’t that just how life is?  If Jesus was dead, we would have no hope.

Nothing to live for.

Nothing to look forward to.

Nothing to live for past our own death.

But then, Jesus rose from the grave through the power of God.  And now, there is hope.

Our hands can fall from our faces.

Our eyes can light up.

And we can say, “I’m so happy.  I love Jesus.”

Happy Easter!  I hope you know why you celebrate.

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