Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why start a new church?

Why start a new church like The Journey? Why is The Journey Needed?
The 21st century cries for a relevant expression of faith and spirituality. The Journey will be one such relevant expression. As the members of The Journey live life with Jesus, we will introduce Him to others in order to love and glorify Him. We will also love others and introduce them to Jesus in hopes of bringing them onto the narrow road. We will strive to see that everyone we encounter will follow Jesus as their guide and not have to travel the road of life alone.
A brief overview of Lubbock County shows a huge populous of wanderers and passengers mixed with a small percentage of pilgrims. According to the current Texas State Data Figures, Lubbock County has a current population of 251,443 people. According to the Malphurs Group, about half of those are “unchurched” (125,721). This figure was reached by a comparison of the church attendance rolls of evangelical churches in the county. However, this figure must be adjusted because most of these churches are not actually seeing 100% of their members in regular attendance. It has been suggested by many that the average church actually sees 37 – 40% of their rolls in attendance. This means that in Lubbock County, about 46,500 people are active in their church, leaving over 200,000 people unreached or unconnected.
Add to this that the Texas Tech University system is projecting an increase in enrollment over the next three years of 20,000 students, and it becomes easy to see that Lubbock needs relevant expressions of faith.
New churches are a proven way to reach people. With the vast number of disconnected wanderers and passengers in Lubbock County, a new church start based on a relational model makes sense. We feel that it is best to put this “new wine” into a new wine skin. Since our model of ministry will be relational-based ministry, we desire to structure differently from the normal church start so that we can build this into the DNA of our fellowship. To attempt this kind of ministry shift in a traditionally structured church could be very problematic.
The Journey will provide two styles of church multiplication. First, we will grow the core of The Journey as a cell-group ministry. That is to say that there will be many interconnected small groups that will make up the body of The Journey. These interconnected small groups will provide the relationship soil for individual ministry while remaining part of the larger body for congregational-styled ministry. As The Journey grows, we hope to provide the resources, personnel, and training for a simple church network as described below.
Second, we will be proactive in planting simple churches. Simple churches will be church bodies that function independent of the larger body. They will be places where Christ has been taken into a “pocket” of our culture, and done there in that place. We expect this to look like the New Testament house church of the first and second century.

Who Do We Wish To Reach?

Who do we want to reach?
We are taking a different approach to our ministry. We understand that our faith is to take root in our lives, and to be lived out. So, we are hoping to just reach people. We want to reach out and love on people as we would love on Jesus. Pretty simple, huh?

Our Name - The Journey

Why are we called The Journey?
We believe that life is a journey and that there are two kinds of travelers: wanderers and pilgrims. Wanderers are those who really have no idea where they are going, and pilgrims have made the turn to a life of direction and purpose. We do recognize that some people make the turn to the narrow road and progress no further because they are not following the instructions of Jesus. They become passengers, more or less, allowing someone or something other than Jesus to give them direction. Turning to follow Jesus changes your destination. Making the journey with Him brings purpose, fulfillment, and joy. “The Journey” is a metaphoric expression of this view of life, and an expression of how we will do life.

The Journey - A Narrative Metaphor

The Journey…
You are traveling down a long, straight highway, knowing that home lies somewhere well beyond the horizon. You have never gone this way before, but others have told you it will get you to your destination. So, you settle into your seat, adjust the radio, set the cruise control, and off you go. You are hoping to enjoy the wide and extremely well traveled road, but you really want to be home. You consider the journey a long but necessary trip. You concern yourself only with keeping it between the lines as your mind blissfully drifts from thought to thought. Then it happens; a noise, some sort of bump that jars you back to reality. The road isn’t as smooth as you had thought. Surveying your surroundings, you notice a person standing on the shoulder ahead, possibly a hitchhiker. He’s holding a sign that simply says, “Home,” and points to a much narrower and much less traveled road. It strikes you as odd, but you decide to keep going. As you pass the long-haired man, he makes eye contact with you, turning as you travel past him. You look at him in your rear view mirror, reading his sign, and watching his frame shrink into the distance behind you. Something stirs inside you. You begin to think, “Where does that road go? Who was that guy? Should I turn around and check it out? What if I’m on the wrong road? Can I trust that guy?”
We believe that life is a journey, and everyone starts the journey as a wanderer on the wrong path. But some of us have been shown the narrow road that we are meant to travel, and have chosen to follow The Guide on this narrow path. That’s where the real journey begins. We begin to move with intention and design. We have discovered that there are only two paths through life, and the one we were on leads to destruction. But, because Jesus of Nazareth has shown us the right path, we continue the journey on the right path towards a new destination with new purpose and new hope. We now find ourselves in the midst of the greatest journey of all; with the Great Journeyman as our guide. Our purpose has changed from making it home to making Him famous. We no longer travel uninformed. We get our direction from the One who set us on this path. He tells us things that would not have made sense on the other road. We know our destination, but concern ourselves with the journey, understanding that He is concerned with the journey. He asks us to travel together as strangers in a strange land. He leads us to help each others to be better travelers. He expects us to offer assistance and direction to those who are lost or stuck. He compels us to hold up our signs for those who are still on the wrong path, imploring them to change direction. Home, it’s just a matter of turning. All the while, we are learning that the journey is really all about our Guide. Ever bump, every breath, every step, every valley, every new traveler, it’s all about Jesus of Nazareth and His way. We find that He is the Way.
Where are you on the journey? Are you still on the broad and well traveled road? Are you considering making the turn and trusting this Jesus of Nazareth to be your Guide? It’s the right choice, and the only way home. Are you a traveler who has made the turn, but gotten stuck? Are you close on the heels of the Great Journeyman? Wherever you are in the journey, we want to come along side you and travel this strange road with you.

Some Info about The Journey

Hey gang! I'm in the process of updating The Journey's web site, and getting this info out for the world to see. But, this is a good place to start getting our stuff out. The next several posts will be info about our new church start. I'm going to do the info in different posts so they are easier to read through and handle. It's a simplicity thing. Be sure to comment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Journey

Well, I think we're on the road to where we need to go. The Journey took a major step forward in the last 24 hours. God has hooked us up with an incredible sponsor church from Arlington, Mosaic. Nate blogged about our meeting with them yesterday. He captures the essence of what we discussed. But this is monumental for me. Having a group of Godly people say that they believe in what we're about, and that they want to help was a big confirmation for me as the Pastor. I trust these guys implicitly, and knowing that God is saying to them what He is saying to us is a great surge of confidence for me.
For those of you who don't know, The Journey is something that God has been birthing in me for a couple of years. In June of 2003, my Student Ministry staff and I began to pray that God would reveal a new paradigm for reaching students. We sensed in our hearts that relationship building was foundational to reaching students, but struggled with structuring a relational ministry inside the structure of an established church. For two years we met together weekly and prayed. In the spring of 2005, God began to shape our vision and hearts to an ancient work for our modern day. In May of that year, we left our ministry settings to pursue the vision God had been shaping in us. As we explored relational ministry and discipleship, we realized that we had been brought to the place of starting a new work in Lubbock, TX. So, beginning in August of 2005, we began The Journey, a small group of believers who are committed to building relationships that communicate God's love and acceptance. We have altered the pattern of our lives to build relationships with wanderers in hopes of pointing them to the narrow road. We are engaging our culture in spiritual conversations while loving on people. As we build relationships, we are looking and praying for partners to come along side us in prayer and financial support of this ancient work.
In my next post, I'll give you all the details about what we're doing, our relevant metaphors, and a way to plug into praying for this ancient work. More will be coming. Right now my wheels are turing and my head is spinning. There's a lot to get working on!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ode To The Chicken

A bit of stupidity that has been rolling around in my head since Saturday...
Ode To The Chicken
The chicken. O, suculent piece of white-meat. How you tempt me with your deliciocity. Although you were once covered in feathers, cuing and clucking like a mindless prairie creature, the Colonel has delivered you as a delicacy for my pallet. Fried in breading until you are extra crispy or baked golden brown with a lemon-pepper zing, you delight my taste-buds. Could I live without you? Yes, but why? To what end?
O, my chicken, you always rise early unwittingly waiting for your demise as you produce eggs for our enjoyment. You are such an intricate part of life, whether an unmoving bouillon cube to flavor otherwise boring hot water, or a source of feathers for a better night's sleep, you bring so much to our existence.
So, here's to you, you golden-fried, egg-producing, bouillon-flavoring, feather-giving marvel of God's great creation. You bock my world.

What a day!

Can I just talk about my day yesterday? It wa a whirlwind, and I'd like to just put it down somewhere as an "official" record.
Well, yesterday started off a little differently than the normal Sunday. Our local association of Baptist churches was having their annual meeting, and I was responsible for putting up our Hot Hearts display (since I am the Publicity Chairman). So, I got to The Heights Fellowship (THF), where Caryn and I attend on Sundays, early yesterday so I could print some stuff for our monster display booth (one of those 9' tall semi-circle deals). While working on that, I remembered that Caryn and I were working in the nursery that morning, doing Sunday Bible study with the 2-3 year old class. No biggie. Cayla is in that class, so I'll get to watch her do life with other kids. It was great, by the way. But the big bomb came right before my stint in the nursery. Mike Martindale (the Pastor of THF, and one of my best friends in the world) came in and told me that the Key-note speaker for the annual meeting's Youth Rally had just backed out because of a death in the family, and with only hours to go, there was no one to speak. I then talked with Nick Watts (another of the greatest men in the world and a very close friend) and suggested a local guy. Nick had something else in mind. He suggested that I do it. Why not? I said sure. Then, it hit me. I would be speaking at a rally for around 300 students with little warning and even less preparation. Yikes! So, I went from the nursery at THF to the worship gathering. From there, I grabbed lunch on the run, hit Wal-Mart for some booth stuff, and headed to the church where the annual meeting would be (Oakwood Baptist Church). I immediately went to setting the booth up, and gave Miracle Max some mediea stuff I would need for my speaking gig that night. Miracle Max is Max Webb, my former Ministry Assistant from Bacon Heights. He's now the pulbicity guy for Oakwood. He, too, is one of my closest friends. It took some time to set the booth up, then I helped with the media set up for the rally, and then found out that I had to speak to the adult assembly about the current state of Youth Ministry. From there I went back to media set up and helping Max get my video clips ready. Next was the actual event. By the time it was all said and done, it was 8:15 p.m. and I made it home just in time to collapse on the couch watching the world series. By the way, did the Astros win last night? I fell asleep about the 7th innning with the 'Stros up 4-2. I vaguely remember my wife laying a comforter on me as she headed for bed. The next thing I knew, it was this morning, and Jeremiah was crawling up onto the couch for our daily routine of morning snuggling. Needless to say, Sunday wiped me out! I realized, though, what a day I'd had, and what a great role my friends had played in the whole thing. God has surrounded me with men who are sensitive to His will, and are great encouragers. I cherish these men greatly.
The rest of my week is going to fly by, too. I have a volleyball game tonight, and my father-in-law will be at the house for a while. He's great. A great man who believes in doing right by others and for others. He's been a huge blessing to us, and the not-typical father-in-law for me. He's been like a dad to me. Tuesday, some guys from our potential sponsor church will be here to meet for the day. I'm excited about them coming. They, too, are great friends. We'll spend the day together sharing our visions for our ministries, and how we can help each other. Wednesday I'll be speaking at FBC Anton. Wes, the Youth Minister there, is a solid guy doing ministry that reminds me of my ministry in the early days. Thursday, The Journey will have it's worship gathering at our house. Friday will be a day to breathe, and hang with a friend at Starbuck's. Saturday is The Journey's Community Meal at the Futrell's house. It'll be great! We have some new friends coming to that. It'll be a great chance to meet and love on new people. Then, Sunday starts a new week and a whole different bunch of events! So, I'll be posting throughout the week to keep everyone up-to-speed on what is going on, and how things are going. I'm also going to post some plain stupid stuff, too, to keep my mind from thinking too much. Thanks for all of your prayers as The Journey and my ministry take shape. Great things are looming on the horizon, and my body is a-tingle with excitement about the unseen horizon.
Keep it real,

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Quick Survey

I wanted to say thanks to Alex, Josh, and Trent for coming to our worhsip gathering last night. Even though I got my butt kicked playing Halo 2 afterwards, it was fun. I haven't played my X-box in a while, and really enjoyed getting back into it.
At our gathering last night, we discussed relevant metaphors, and Jesus' great use of them. He always seemed to have a great way to express the good news to the people he was with. Like Nicodemus: an older man and a Pharisee who was part of a movement that was doing nothing for his soul. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night and wants to know the "mystical" secret of the life Jesus has. Jesus tells him he must be born again. The woman at the well, who has been looking for satisfaction and validation through her relationships with men, finds that Jesus brings eternal satisfaction. The Rich young ruller gets a money talk. Zaccheus gets accpetance from a righteous man. Great ways of expressing the good news of Jesus Christ! So, here's what I need from everyone who reads this: Take a moment to comment and let me know what would be good news to you. What would be the metaphor that speaks most to you about the good news of Jesus Christ. For example, mine would be that there is a Father who will never leave me, and who will enable me to raise kids who make a difference. What's the good news to you?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Crisp Morning Air

After a day of clouds, I awoke to a crisp, autumn morning today. The rising sun peaking through the trees to our East illuminates the drops of dew on the still wet grass. The morning feels sureal. Song birds lift their voices in a merry chrous announcing that it is time to arise and embrace the day. The cool, 65 degree air brings invigeration as I breathe it in. Neighbors begin to leave there homes for whatever errands they have saved for today. I wonder as I watch them if they, too, have had the epiphany that I have had this morning. Life moves forward at a steady pace, flooding my existence with moment after moment that speaks of the eternal. It speaks of a Creator who has orchestrated every ray of sun, every drop of dew, every bird's song, and every gentle breeze; all to His great glorious praise! To simply arise and face the day with no appreciation of this would be like watching Star Wars in black and white, or eating grandma's home-made apple pie with no taste or smell. To think that humanity has been walking in this creation for thousands of years without much of a clue of the majestic glory of the Creator that surrounds us every minute of every day. Even though the Creator has been making known His invisible qualities through His creation, the created tend to get self-absorbed and miss the message.
If you have not yet experienced the Creator through His creation today, turn your computer off and step outside. Breathe in the air and allow the Creator to to remind you of His provision for you. Experience His great symphany of life and marvel anew at the wonder that is our God.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Classic Revisited

Tonight marks my little boy's coming of age, so to speak. We just curled up in the living room and popped in a DVD classic, "Star Wars IV: A New Hope." And he is mesmerized! At the beginning of the movie where the Storm Troopers blast their way on board Princes Leia's ship, and Darth Vader walks through the smoke-filled door, Jeremiah looked up with wide-eyes and a sense of awe and said, "Woe, it's Darth Vader..." I was about Jeremiah's age when this movie made it's silver screen debut. So, here we sit, eating pop-corn and sharing a common experience, he for the first time, and me again through him. There's nothing quite like watching something of this magnitude through the eyes of a child. I don't have any idea how many times I've seen this movie. For my son, though, it's all brand new. Hahaha! Jeremiah just said, "That gold robot has issues with R2-D2." And that's what's great about what we're sharing. I'll get to see something I've seen hundreds of times, but this time through Jeremiah's eyes. It'll be fresh and new. It makes me mindful of how we should come to many of the elements of our faith. There is so much that seems to become commonplace to me. But it shouldn't. It should be fresh and new. Is this what Jesus means when He tells us that unless we become as children we won't see the kingdom of God? Could He possibly be telling us that the kingdom of God is visible here if we'll just look with the eyes of a child? Just as this movie is jumping off the screen into the imagination of my little boy, God wants His Word to jump of the pages into my mind. To see Christ with the same marvel, wonder, awe, and amazement as a child watching something larger than life should be our approach to our faith. I have been doubly blessed tonight. It's something Jeremiah and I will remember for a long time, and it's a time of God reminding me to watch Him with the eyes of a child. After all, when it comes to events that are larger than life, there's none larger than God!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Mystic Nation*

When I left to come to Arlington, it was pouring rain in Lubbock and cold. There was a great possiblity that Metroplex weather would be like that. I hate having to pack for a trip like that. I brought cold/rainy day clothes, mild/pleasant day clothes, and warm/muggy day clothes. I had to pack three times as many clothes for this trip, and then not wear 66% of what I brought! My suitcase is HUGE and I wore one piece of clothing out of it (besides undies and such....). This morning, as I was repacking my suitcase, I noticed a small piece of paper in one of my black steel-toed boots. My mood lightened immediately. My wife has been known to slip little notes of encouragement into my luggage as I am leaving town so that I can have pleasant little surprises while traveling. It's one of those things that I love about her. I reached into the leather upper of the work boot and grabbed the tan piece of folded paper. As I opened it, I realized it wasn't from her. It was a typed piece of paper that simply said, "Into The Mystic" at the top in a caligraphic-styled font done in black ink. Just under that it posed the question, "Are you ready?" It immediately sent my mind to racing. The only other person in the room was Jerry. Jerry is a good friend who was gracious enought to let me have a free place to sleep for the last 3 days. Did he know about the mystic nation? There's no way. So, I began mentally running through who could have put this cryptic message in my boot. My wife? Unlikely. Housekeeping? That would be wild. Who had access to my belongings? How could this happen? Had I really been physically contacted by a Mystic Warrior? Hmmm. But there was a greater question tugging at me: "Are you ready?" I stopped. Am I? And I guess that's what spurred my thoughts on the road of Christ and the cost of spiritual awakening that I posted below this. Am I ready? Am I ready? If I say, "Yes, I am ready!" what will it cost me? Do I need to know the cost to be ready? But, if I'm not ready, have I already paid an unbearable price? As you can read in the post below, I am ready. But I wanted to pass the note on to you:
Are you ready? If so, follow me as I follow Christ.

The Fame of Christ and a Spiritual Movement

Atlanta Bread, sometimes I miss the Metroplex. However, it took me 20 mintues to travel 3 miles down Cooper to get here! Sometimes I don't miss the metroplex at all. Isn't life really like that in many areas? There is good and bad with everything. Almost the idea of the yin and the yang... Dallas/Ft. Worth has great entertainment and eateries, but traffic and cold people are the exchange. As I sit here sipping my Strawberry-banana smoothie (yes, I know, that sounds healthy. But I've been at a conference all week where we sit, listen, eat, sit listen, eat, and I'm bloated like road kill right now! I won't need to eat for another couple days!) I realize that at first glance life seems to be like that, with more bad than good most of the time. But, when I dig into it, that's really a lie. First and foremost because there is no evil in Christ. He is all good. Second, there is no balance between the two. Good is the ultimate victor as promised by Scripture. Third, much of what seems bad is a matter of my perspective. I'm not debating that there is evil in the world, nor am I saying that you can view evil as good if you just look hard enough. But I am saying that James says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..." Is it good or bad to be spit upon? Is it good or bad to be cussed for believing The Word. Is it good or bad to be ridiculed for the cause of Christ? It's good. Not because we should seek to walk into situations where we provoke people to spit upon us, but as we pursue Christ, as we walk the path into the mystic, it will require sacrifice and struggle. We are called to make Him famous. Too often I see the cost of that and decide that it is too much for me. I think I can't do it, or that there are smoother roads to walk. Was there a smoother road for Christ to walk that would accomplish the redemption of humanity? What is my road compared to His? A fellow pilgrim reminds me that Christ's yoke for me is easy, and His burden is light. The author of Hebrews pens, "Endure hardships as discipline." it's not pleasant, nor is it easy, but it is the way to shape and mold me. It is the way to a true spiritual movement. The road into the mystic is the pilgrimage to Christ-likeness. For me to see this, grasp it, cherish it, makes what looks bad become good. Rough roads in life can beat us up, or raise us up. I choose to be raised up, to make Christ famous, and lead the way for those who follow. One of my inspirations, Job, penned, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!" Surely this will turn out for my deliverence...

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm Away Right Now

Hey gang! I'm at the Youth Minister's Conclave for a little while, and haven't had time to post. I've got some ideas already rolling around for my next post, and promise I will get to it soon. Just wanted to post a couple things to pray for:
1. I'm here marketing my speaking ministry, so pray that God will connect me with the people that I need to be involved with to assist their ministries. Pray also that I don't feel so much like a pimp. It's been rough, but I've spent most of my time just hanging with guys and if they ask what I'm doing now, I give them a card and a brochure. It hasn't been too bad.
2. I have a meeting Wednesday night with the Elders from a church here in Arlington that is considering being the sponsor church for The Journey. This would be huge for us. Pray that the meeting will go well, but more importantly that the meeting will be a time with God so we all know what His will is in this. I'll give you more about that after all the meetings have happened, should they go well.
3. As always, I miss my family, epecially my wife. We had an incredible week last week, coming off a rough couple days, and I hate that I'm not home right now with my best friend. Of course, Conclave is always cool because I get to spend time with the guys and gals that I've been in the trenches with over the years as Youth Ministers. But it's nothing like getting to spend time with my favorite person, Caryn. Pray that I'll not be too homesick!
4. I'm running more and more guys that are in the same situation as I am in life and ministry. At one point, I was sitting with 3 other church planters who are struggling with finances, ministry, and planting in general. I'm amazed at how many of us there are out there chasing God and paying dearly for it. Pray that I will be a source of encouragment to so many of these guys. Pray also that some progressive thinkers will begin stepping up and investing in the ministry that God is calling us to. I can't help but think that there are people out there that God is leading to support missional, relational ministries. Pray that we will be connected. Pray for one of my dearest friends whose family has really suffered through this process. Pray for the pieces to fall into place for him.
5. And remember, I'm praying for you, too. Your prayers, love, and support are precious to me. Thanks for all you do.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Mystic...

Now, for something I stumbled across as Nathan and I were talking about blog sites: The Mystic. Back in the day (Summer, 1988), I worked with a young man in the Dallas area named Erwin McManus. I was a summer missionary for the Dallas Baptist Association, and he was leading a team called First Priority (if I remember correctly). He spent some time with us teaching us how to share our faith in any situation, a technique that I've used very often. He is now the lead pastor for Mosaic church in Los Angeles. A friend of mine pastors a church that has ties to Mosaic, and our recent dialogue prompted me to find a new blog site that I've poured over tonight. Erwin's brother, Alex, has a blog site called "Into The Mystic" that has a great narrative about his quest to find a group of ancient warriors who are spiritual guides for those still in the fog. Go read it. No, really. I'll wait....
As I read it, something stirred in me. A chord was struck. Something subversive, something ancient, something real. Now that I am aware of this Mystic Nation, I'm looking for those who are part of the movement. Alex mentions that his discovery of The Mystic Nation began with a simple e-mail that looked like spam. But from that e-mail he began getting hints, and coming closer to discovering this Mystic Nation. I wonder, now that I've heard about it, when my e-mail will arrive.
I like a quote from one of Alex's narratives, “Warriors needed in a quest to save the universe one planet at a time starting with Earth. Safe return doubtful.” I'm ruined to the things of this world, and want to invite many of you who check this site to join the quest for the Mystic Nation. Thoughts? Comments? Let 'em fly!

The Journey

I've got two things to blog on tonight, but I'm going to do them in separate blogs so that...well, because I want to, and it's my blog!
Tonight, we had our weekly worship gathering of The Journey. There are normally six of us present in my home for a time of being together with Jesus. Katlyn was gone tonight, but it was fitting that she was gone. I'll explain that in a second.
For our worship gathering tonight, everyone was supposed to bring something to share about their walk, about Christ, or about the Christian life. It was a great evening! First, Caryn had prepared blueberry and banana-nut muffins, coffee, and hot tea as an act of Christian hospitality and fellowship. Elaine shared from Hebrews 11 about the walk of faith. The passage really spoke to where we are in our journey, and Elaine tied it all together as she shared about not knowing the future, but knowing we're following Christ. This kind of faith pleases God. Next, Nathan shared a song he wrote based on Isaiah 58. The resounding refrain saying that God is enough for us. Great song! Marcus shared about King Nebuchadnezzar, and how he was used by God to spread God's fame. He spoke of how we all can spread God's fame, or like Nebuchadnezzar (and King David), we can have our moments of slipping back into the flesh. The bottom line for a man or woman who is chasing God is getting back up when you fall. I closed us out with one of those "imprint toys" that have all the pins that shape to your hand or face, and leave an impression. I talked about Philippians 3: 12-17, and how we need to leave an impression for those who need to follow someone. "Follow me as I follow Christ!" And then there is Katlyn. As I mentioned before, she wasn't here. But she had a great offering tonight! She was unable to be with us because she has made a new friend and is pouring her life into this friend in a mentoring role. She was out making the impression that we were at home talking about. And that is as great an expression of worship as any other!
To all of you who have joined me in The Journey, thank you for sharing tonight. As always, you have been a source of great inspiration to me. Caryn's comment was, "Tonight was good." And she is surely right. Caryn, Marcus, Katlyn, Nathan, and Elaine: tonight was good. Thank you for giving and sharing. I look forward to what Christ is doing in our fellowship with eager anticipation.
Your humble servant,

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Book Of James

Man, this book really rips me up. It may be the most pragmatic book of the New Testament. I was reading the first chapter of James, and God just got to crawling all over me about life and trust. Consider it pure joy when you face, is this guy talking to me or what?!? But the "ah-ha" moment came as I discussed this passage with some other folks last night. One of my friends was trying to talk about the difference between faith and laziness. His main question was something like this: "I know we should turn things over to God, and trust Him to take care of it, but how can you know if this is laziness or faith?" God spoke to me in that moment because I've really wrestled with that very thing. James tells us that when we face these trials, we should ask God for wisdom... That's not to say you just leave it with God and hope it works out. When you find yourself in the midst of a trial, ask God for wisdom, and He will give it to you freely. With wisdom, you know what you need to do, and what to trust God with. With God's wisdom, you know where to step, where to wait, and where to leap. I've read this passage hundreds of times, but last night it really was a source of great inspiration. When we face trials, count it joy, and ask God for wisdom to walk wisely through the trial. That's the essence of life, really. And the bonus is that we will not only walk wisely and weather the storms in a Godly way, but we earn the respect of people watching because they see us walk with wisdom. Max Lucado calls these trials the "thumps" of life. He says, "When a potter makes a pot, he checks its solidity by taking it from the oven and thumping it. It it "sings," it's ready. If it "thuds," it's placed back in the oven. The character of a person is also checked by thumping." With God-given wisdom, our lives will "sing" when we're thumped. Otherwise, we react to the trials in our flesh, and the result is a resounding "thud" that declares we are not yet ready. My hope and prayer is for wisdom that will allow my life to sing with the thumps that inevitably come.