Archive for the 'Church' Category

13
Mar
09

what if?

Over the last few years I’ve had some amazing conversations with guys like this guy, this guy and this guy about effecting change in their world.  I mention these guys because I know that one day they will truly impact the world for Jesus Christ.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to guys like this pastor, this leader, or this guy all of whom are doing some pretty amazing things for God RIGHT NOW!!!

I’m so honored to have this guy in my family.  And I can tell you that this man has done more for the Kingdom of God from the furthest corners of the earth than anyone will ever know and I know he has a lot more work ahead of him.  I remember sitting with him  a couple of years ago in the food court of a mall in downtown Atlanta.  As we polished off some Chick-fil-A I remember telling him that my greatest fear in life was the fear that I would one day find myself sitting in the grandstands of heaven watching a heroes parade of the people that did something amazing for God in their lifetimes, and I would simply be a spectator.

I gotta tell you that thought still scares the daylights out of me.

The craziest thing though is this.  I believe the one thing that could possibly stand in the way of me truly doing something GREAT for God is the one little question: “what if?”

What if I fail?  What if I’m wrong?  What if I try to lead, but no one follows?  What if? what if? What if?

I love the story of Peter walking on water to Jesus.  I imagine this guy had some BIG TIME what ifs bouncing around in his head before he got his feet wet.  The big one:  What if I drown?  But I’ve often wondered what if Peter DIDN’T step out of the boat.  Would his story be the same?

Would he have continued to be one of Jesus’ closest disciples?

Would he have been restored to relationship with Jesus even after denying him?

Would he have led thousands to Christ in one sermon on the day of Pentecost?

Would his shadow have brought healing to whomever it passed over?

Would he have been arrested for preaching the gospel, then released from prison by an angel?

Would he & John have healed the crippled man at the temple gate?

Man I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I seriously have to doubt any of those things would have happened if he gave in to “what if?” sitting on that boat that night.

I guess the point I’m getting at is this:  What if I don’t do what I know Ive been called to do with my life?  What if I don’t walk the path that has been divinely planned just for me?  What miraculous things will I miss seeing with my own eyes.  It may be that my greatest fear of sitting in the grandstands of heaven watching the heroes parade go by me, might come true.

You know what?  I don’t want to take that risk.   I may not be in a heroes parade in heaven one day, but I refuse to sit in the grandstands and just watch.  I’m stepping out of the boat?

You comin?

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11
Mar
09

good church/bad church

I have literally been in church all of my life.  I have vivid memories of cutting my teeth on the hard wood pews where we sat, fifth row back on the left side, close to the center aisle.  I remember people like Brother Mac, Sister Elsie, Brother Dean and Sister Dean, Sister Thelma and Her sister Vernon.  I always thought it was funny that all of their first names were “brother” or “sister.”  I remember my mom & dad’s friends; Jack & Joni, Ruby & Harold, Mike & Sheryl, Linda & Skeeter. Then I had my friends, Renae, Wayne, Denise, Gemmia & Sean.  We really were a close church family, and the members of that family are what make my memories such fond ones.

Still, growing up in our church there was a lot about how we did church that I didn’t really understand.  I did what ever I was told to do, because I was afraid that if I asked a question about Why we did what we did then I would be questioning God, and . . .well. . . .  “we’re not supposed to question God.”  I believed everything I was taught, and for the most part what I was taught was solid teaching.  But looking back at some of our practices, some of our customs, has left me wondering why we did things the way we did them.

churchedI read a book a couple of weeks ago by Matthew Paul Turner called Churched.  Its a relatively lighthearted read.  Turner reflects over his childhood  growing up in Church.  I can identify with so many of his stories and  thankfully I can laugh about our similar experiences.  I’m no worse for wear from my childhood in church.  Like I said I was taught truth, and the teaching was generally sound teaching.

When I finished reading that book, I began to think of all the stories I’ve heard of others, who do not have such fond memories of church.  It always breaks my heart to hear a story of a person who was “hurt” by the church.  Countless stories can be heard today of people who were molested, verbally abused, and financially ripped off by people who called themselves “christians.”  Leaders who called themselves “pastors.”

I don’t know what your experience has been with church.  Maybe you have the good memories like I have, even ones you can look back and laugh about.  But maybe, you’re still dealing today with hurt, pain, disillusionment because of people who claimed to represent “the Church” of Jesus.

I pray today for you.  I pray that you will be healed, restored, and that you will see Jesus not as the icon of a group of abusers, but as a friend who hurts because you were hurt in His name.  May you see that church was meant to be a good thing, not a bad thing.

How would you describe your past “church” experiences?  Maybe this is a good place for us to laugh and cry together.

20
Feb
09

Almost Live From #C309

I’m in Dallas this week at Fellowship Church for the Creative Church Conference also known in Twitter world as #C309.  I gotta tell you that right now I’m so full of mental food for thought that I’m seriously about to bust.

In fact, we have two hours this afternoon in breakout sessions.  When I tried to go sit down in one, I realized that I just couldn’t hold one more bit of information without processing some of what I’ve already heard.  So while my traveling buddy is in his breakout session, I decided to muddle through some of my thoughts.

Now I know this will sound absurd but I’m going through nearly 47 pages of notes.  Some of which I’ve taken but mostly from other C3 attendees who’ve been posting their notes here.   I copied and pasted most of these pages and I’m weeding out the highlights which I gotta tell you is not a small task.

I’ll process through it all in the next couple of days, but I just have to tell you on an emotional spiritual level that God has been so powerfully speaking to me these last two days.  We’ve heard speakers like Ed Young, Jentzen Franklin, Christine Caine (an Austrailian powerhouse “chick”), Craig Groeschel, Steven Furtick, Tommy Barnett, Ben Young, Bil Cornelius, and tonight the Bishop T.D. Jakes is “bringin it.”  (If I’ve heard one “get ready get ready get ready” impression I’ve heard a million.)

So here’s what stands out so far:

Mercy must be in the middle of EVERYTHING the church does.

God is consumed with the LOST

Being consumed with what other people think about me is IDOLATRY.

My generation must bring HONOR back to ministry.

If I’m going to be effective in seeing people come to Christ, I’ve got to have IT.

I know this will make little or no sense to anyone out there reading this.  And I’m okay with that.  These are sort of stakes in the ground that I gotta come back too, as God leads me down this path I see Him taking me.

peacefornow

13
Jan
09

Who Is A Catalyst for Change?

Yesterday I asked the question, “What Needs To Be Changed?” In that post I made a statement that said, “I think a lot more people are talking about change in the church, than there are people who are true catalysts of change.”  Having said that, let me tell you that I know there are lots of people out there effecting change.  I went through the list of people that I’m aware of and thought I would introduce a couple of them to you:

Anne Jackson – Anne is a writer, blogger and staff member at Cross Point Church, in Nashville, TN.  Anne has a book coming out very soon called Mad Church Disease.  This book speaks to the issue of so many Christians and Christian leaders dealing with burnout.  Anne has a heart to see Christ followers have HEALTHY relationships with Christ and with other followers.  But if you spend anytime browsing through Anne’s blog you’ll see that she’s committed to helping bring positive change in people’s lives, by sending shoes to the poor in Mexico, purchasing mosquito nets for kids in Africa, or visiting prostitutes in Baton Rouge, LA.

Steven Furtick – Steven pastors Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.  Now I haven’t been to Pastor Furtick’s church, but I’ve followed his numerical growth over the last couple of years and I have to tell you that the sheer numerical growth is phenomenal.  The church launched in 2006 six and in two years has grown to over 4000 people in attendance.  This church meets in rented venues, which means they don’t even own property.  But to me that’s not really the most impressive part.  What I find impressive is the number of people that are invited to follow Christ each weekend, and who publicly accept that invitation.  I’m also impressed with Pastor Steven and Elevation Church’s sense of calling to their community. Go spend some time on his blog and see what I mean.

These are just two people who I believe are catalyst’s for change.  Tell me about some of the people, ministries, or churches that you see as being true catalysts for change.

05
Jan
09

bible.

bibleinfo003Our church is reading through the Bible together this year.  I’m amazed at how “easy” it is in theory to read the Bible through in a year. We’re selling copies of the One Year Bible so people can follow a plan more easily.  There are websites that will create a reading plan for you, and you can subscribe to that website so an email or feed can be sent to you so you get your daily dose of Bible reading.  My personal method of choice is YouVersion.  I can log on and read from my computer or even from my phone.  We are in no way limited by means and methods for reading the Bible through in an entire year,  so if its so easy then why is it so hard?

In my entire 33 years of existence I have started practically every January 1st that I can remember and attempted to read the Bible cover to cover.  and every year I get to somewhere around the end of Genesis, and I end up fizzling out.  I’ve tried to read it chronologically, I’ve tried different versions and last year and this year I have tried or am trying  to read it electronically.  But I’ve learned that fulfilling this task has little to do with method, but more to do with intent.  I’m still in my first week of 09 so its a pretty fresh goal this time of year, but a month into the year, that goal seems to slip down the priority list. 

Don’t get me wrong its not that I’ve never read the entire Bible, but this one personal goal is always the hardest one to fulfill.  So this post is probably one of the less encouraging ones I’ve written in a long time.  Its a “let’s be real” post. And Im just wondering if anyone else has this struggle?  How do you deal with an unfulfilled goal?  Am I the only slacker out there? 

I’m open.

12
Dec
08

12 hours

Its about 8:30 tonight.  My kids are already in bed.  My wife cooked a delicious supper.  The Christmas tree is glowing and smells of pine seem to float through the air.  The fire place is a stage for flames to leap and dance, and in spite of plenty of stuff that we could worry about tonight, life seems so good.

But across town, life seems so different for another family.  They’re sitting in their car, they’ve been there since almost 7 o’clock.  It’s a chilly 43 degrees outside and rather than enjoy the comforts of home tonight they’ve chosen to wait.  What are they waiting for?  Tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. our church will open its doors and give away nearly 1500 bicycles, hundreds of gifts, and 600 boxes of food.  This will all go to families who are truly in need this Christmas.

I’m always amazed at those who come early every year.  Twelve hours early.  Twelve hours to wait in a car, in the cold, so that this time tomorrow night they can rest a little bit easier knowing their family will have food and their kids will have Christmas this year.

Can you imagine?  12 hours.  Some people will wait in line 12 hours to get a new Xbox, Playstation, or Wii.  Some will wait that long to purchase tickets to a concert or event, or even to see someone famous.  But its a different kind of person who will wait 12 hours to get a simple bicycle for their kid, and a box of food for their family.

12 hours.  To me its unimaginable, but to that family across town tonight it’s worth it.  Its worth it to see a smile on their little girl or boys face.  Its worth it to know they won’t go hungry just yet.  12 hours is the price they are willing to pay for a little bit of hope.

So tonight, I’ll go to sleep in my comfortable bed, but noticeably uncomfortable in my heart.  Disturbed by how blessed I truly am and how easily I overlook those blessings.  And 12 hours from now, I pray that I don’t return to that normal, routine, ungrateful life, but I pray that my life will be changed by the hundreds of people I’ll see tomorrow, and especially the few that were willing to wait 12 hours for a little joy this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas Baldwin County, Merry Christmas!

15
Nov
08

reading. (2)

churched-11I’ve grown up in church, and sometimes I love to reminisce about my childhood in church.  But I especially love to remember the funny things that happened as well.  Still there are things I experienced growing up in church that looking back now were quite disturbing.  Matthew Paul Turner writes this book from a similar vantage point:

Churched details and American boy’s experiences growing up in a culture where men weren’t allowed to let their hair grow to touch their ears (“an abomination”), women wouldn’t have been caught dead in a pair of pants (unless swimming), and the pastor couldn’t preach a sermon without a healthy dose of hellfire and brimstone.  Matthew grapples with the absurdity of a Sunday School Barbie burning, the passionate annual boxing match between the pastor and Satan, and the terror rapture movies – while growing into a young man who, amidst the chaotic mess of religion, falls in love with Jesus.

I’ve previewed the first chapter and holy cow I can so relate.  I’ll tell you more about it when I’m done.  Did you grow up in church?  What’s your most memorable experience from church?




@shannongreer says

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