Weekend Recap 5-1-11

What a great day @ The Ridge this past Sunday! Here are a few highlights:

  • The band did an exceptional job Sunday! Props to Jerry and the whole Creative Arts team.
  • Spoke on obedience and baptism from Acts 8:26-40
  •  Obedience is doing what I’m told to do, when I’m told to do it, with a right heart attitude. Here’s the problem we have with being obedient to God, Jesus, God’s Word. Just as we talked about last Sunday, if God is just a concept, not a reality, in our lives, then obedience is optional. Since God is just a concept and obedience is optional…or only if convenient…then Jesus becomes simply our spare tire.  We get Him out in an emergency…when the wheels fall off or we get a flat and are stuck.
  • Jesus wants and deserves our surrender and obedience. He doesn’t want to just be our spare tire.
  • Radical Obedience is obeying with reckless abandon, letting go of everything and following Christ without looking back
  • Question:  Are we willing to run to obeyChrist? Look back at Philip in vv. 26-30. What did he do when he heard God call him? Immediate obedience. What did he do when he saw the Eunuch? He RAN. Do we RUN to obey Christ?
  • We try to complicate Jesus’ simplest commands. Because of they are complicated, then we don’t have to do anything about them. We struggle with the simple commands because we have no choice but to deal with them.
  • At the end of our gathering we offerd a chance for people to respond in obedience through baptism, if they had never done so biblically.
  • WSe offered the opportunity for people to respond IMMEDIATELY and spontaneously and SIX people responded by being baptized Sunday!! That was awesome! It was cool to see on mother and daughter and one father and daughter baptized together. In addition two other individuals responded also. That NEVER gerts old!!
  • After our gathering two teams went to two different communities on our region affected by the tornadoes last week. I was proud of our folks for responding so generously! We took water, juice, and all kinds of household stuff that was requested and delivered to Cullman, AL and Ringgold, GA. Thanks to Craig Parsons and Warehouse Of Hope for giving us a lot of water, etc. to take along with what our people donated. All totaled we took six
    tonando damage leading into Cullman, AL

    truckloads and a trailer full of stuff to these communities.

 

  • Major props to those who volunteered: the Pruet, Leggs & Atkins families, along with Mike Pinkerton, Debby Ferst, Katherine
    unloading water for tonado relief

    Morgan, Aaron Whipple, Shelli Delita, and I think a couple  of others went too!  Thanks to all of those who stayed after and helped load up the trucks too. The people there were very appreciative of our efforts. Our opporunities to minister there are not done. We’ll be prayerfully looking at how we can minister more in the future to these communities. It is gonna take months to clean up and rebuild.

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh…Christmas shopping for 8 kids in perspective

I thought I’d repost this from last year, since it is getting lots of hits in my archive. I also added something new for this year:

People ask us from time to time how we do Christmas with 8 children. Well, we’ve done a variety of things over the years, but we have always kept it simple. We don’t put this huge emphasis on Santa and we only give a couple of gifts to each.

We draw names among the kids. They used to try and buy each sibling something, but as the family grew it just became more practical to draw names. They really enjoy doing this too. Searching for that special gift. We give them a budget (usually $5) and they get to pick a special gift for their siblings. Sometimes they will make gifts too. My oldest daughter knitted scarves for her younger sisters last year.

In recent years we have settled on buying each child “Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh” gifts. This is not original to us, but I share it as a possibility for your family too. It really helps keep the perspective of Christmas.

The GOLD gift is something they want…a toy, gadget or something. Not something ridiculously expensive, mind you. The FRANKINCENSE is something they need…usually a clothing item. While the MYRRH is something spiritual…a Bible, devotional book, Christian CD, etc.  The total for all these gifts per child may be $25-35 or less. Even at that, it can get expensive. We usually set a total budget and divide it out based on what we can afford. (We NEVER use credit cards..aren’t you proud Dave Ramsey? 🙂 )   However, we have never put a big emphasis on buying lots of expensive gifts. We shop sales and use discounts and coupons as much as we can. Sometimes a toy or game may be given to more than one child, combining the gift. This is helpful on the budget too. 🙂

This year, the economy has made us have to work harder at saving and stretching and even cutting back. We won’t be able to do as much this year as we have in the past. BUT it is likely that we all should be doing that anyway. We are praying about what we should give as a family to The Gift this Sunday @ The Ridge. Many people at other churches are taking special offerings for missions and ministries. You may be thinking about supporting a worthy ministry in your area. I would challenge you to GIVE GENEROUSLY this Christmas…to OTHERS. Give to meet needs in your family, give out of love for your spouse and kids, but teach them the real reason we give…out of WORSHIP of a God who GAVE everything for us.

For 2010, we have decided as a family to give a goat and/or chickens to help feed a family in a third world nation and also share the hope of the gospel through Samaritan’s Purse. You can check out their catalog here. It’s another great way to get your kids to focus on perspective and giving as well as missions. There are all kinds of gifts at all kinds of prices you can purchase.  Check out this video…watch it with your family too, then go to the catalog and discuss what you’ll purchase:

Sunday Recap 11-14-10

It was a great day @ The Ridge today! Today is the International Day Of Prayer for the persecuted church. Little did we realize when we planned our current series months ago, that we would be ending our GameChanger series on the Beatitudes with the final two of Jesus Beatitude statements on this day…

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

It was a God thing that today wound up being the day that we would be studying about believers and persecution. We did a very unique set up for our worship gathering. We intentionally created a stripped down worship experience. There were no graphics on the screen. We made the room very small and intimate, using pipe and drape. Two single lightbulbs hung from overhead and some candles in the corners. (see the photo). The band did a three song acoustic set of simple hymn arrangements. It was a very tight and, for some, uncomfortable setting, because it was somewhat crowded…intentionally. We tried to create an environment that was more like what most believers in the world worship in. Persecuted Christians all over the world worship in secret, for fear of their lives.  Today, we wanted to give everyone a new awareness for the Persecuted church.

I taught on many scriptures today. There are several that supported our teaching on being a peacemaker and on being persecuted. Being a peacemaker means that we are given a ministry of helping others make peace with God through introducing them to the Prince of Peace. This ministry in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 is referred to as the ministry of reconciliation. We are to be Christ’s ambassadors. His representatives to carry the Gospel…if we aren’t, are we really peacemakers? This isn’t about making peace when people are in conflict, it is about being God’s instrument to bring peace in the ultimate conflict…the ultimate war…a spiritual war for the souls of men.

We are peacemakers, but we are or will be persecuted. In John 15:20-21, Jesus said…

20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

Persecution and suffering is a certainty for the believer. It isn’t a question of if, but when. Persecution and suffering also prepare us for golry. God uses these times in our life to remove the impurities in us.

When we are persecuted or suffering, we are to rejoice…that we have been found worthy to suffer…that He is preparing us for glory…that God is building us up and developing us for His purposes. We follow Jesus example in responding to suffering in 1 Peter 2:18-25.

Finally we have a responsibility to those who are suffering. Hebrews 13:3 says that we are to suffer with those who suffer. We are part of ONE body. We should pray regularly for those who suffer.. Stay aware of our brothers and sisters who are suffering. Get involved. Here are some links to sites dedicated to praying for and supporting the persecuted church:

Voice of The Martyrs
Open Doors
Underground Reality

Here is a video from Open Doors highlighting the TopTen Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted for 2010.

Take this day to be reminded of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering around the world. Stand in the gap in prayer for them. Not just today, but everyday.

BE the church…community makeover 2010

In March of 2008, we decided to try something that we had heard a few churches do. It was a little crazy, but it was exciting. We cancelled our Sunday morning worship gatherings and went out into the community and did ministry/service projects. Honestly, we were looking at something to do on “Daylight Saving Sunday” since attendance was always down dramatically that day. We had heard of a few churches in other areas that had done such a thing, so we prayed about it and thought it through. We had a pretty good turnout and it was an exciting day as our people got out into the community. People in the community were truly blown away. Why would a church actually cancel Sunday services and serve the community? We did get some stares and comments about our t-shirts that said “Don’t go to church…” on the front and “…BE the Church” on the back. (I still love wearin that shirt around town!)

The funny thing was, two weeks before that weekend, I ran into Brian Bloye at WestRidge Church and he told me about an idea of getting all the churches in the county to cancel Sunday services and do ministry projects in the community. I said, “Shut up! We are doing that in two weeks!” Well, it appeared that God was up to something as He was putting the same thing on different people’s hearts. Brian said to let him know how ours went and I later told him how awesome it was. Well, a couple of months later plans were being made for churches to do just what we had done all around our county. It was a bit risky for us to cancel services twice in one year, but we joined in the cooperation and it was amazing! That first year, 8 churches participated and did a couple of hundred projects. We all gathered for a worship celebration that night in the parking lot of Sam’s Club in Hiram and had nearly 5000 people there! It was truly awesome!

2009 Community Makeover Celebration

Last year we saw 35 churches from not only Paulding County but Cobb County as well. Somewhere close to 400 ministry projects were done in our area. That Sunday evening close to 10,000 people gathered in the parking lot of Sam’s Club for an amazing worship celebration! God was moving and out of that came a non-profit organization called Engage Atlanta that would serve our community in many ways, including during the flooding of 2009.

That brings us to 2010 and THIS WEEKEND! Beginning tomorrow (and in some cases today) 80 churches are to be involved in doing hundreds of ministry projects throughout our community….Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! It is going to be so exciting to see what God does through His church as we get beyond the walls of our buildings and the borders of our campuses and touch people where they are by ministering to real needs…some of people who are part of the body of Christ and others who are not. We’ll be on the campuses of virtually every school in our county. We’ll be at community parks and ball fields, in the homes of widows and single moms, reaching out to families who have a member deployed with the military, in neighborhoods, shopping centers, along streets, community centers, non-profits, wherever there are needs.

We at The Ridge will not have our regular worship gatherings on Sunday, but we WILL be at Austin Middle School on Ridge Road (our regular meeting place), so you can show up on Saturday AND Sunday morning at 9AM and help out.  (even if you haven’t signed up yet)We need plenty of extra hands. If you can make it, come on! Look for our Summer Intern, Cris Jackson, and he will get you connected with a project. We will be at two other schools, ball parks, homes in the community, commuity centers as well. If you are attending another church in our area, check with them, they likely are involved!

Ridgers, DON’T FORGET to be at your project Saturday morning and Sunday monring. THEN remember to gather at 7PM behind the Starbucks and in front of Marshall’s in Hiram for an amazing worship celebration with the wole community. I’d get there early too! Bring your own chairs and you can even plan to tailgate with your family! What a weekend this is gonna be!

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh…Christmas shopping for 8 kids

People ask us from time to time how we do Christmas with 8 children. Well, we’ve done a variety of things over the years, but we have always kept it simple. We don’t put this huge emphasis on Santa and we only give a couple of gifts to each.

We draw names among the kids. They used to try and buy each sibling something, but as the family grew it just became more practical to draw names. They really enjoy doing this too. Searching for that special gift. We give them a budget (usually $5) and they get to pick a special gift for their siblings. Sometimes they will make gifts too. My oldest daughter knitted scarves for her younger sisters last year.

In recent years we have settled on buying each child “Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh” gifts. This is not original to us, but I share it as a possibility for your family too. It really helps keep the perspective of Christmas.

The GOLD gift is something they want…a toy, gadget or something. Not something ridiculously expensive, mind you. The FRANKINCENSE is something they need…usually a clothing item. While the MYRRH is something spiritual…a Bible, devotional book, Christian CD, etc.  The total for all these gifts per child may be $25-35 or less. Even at that, it can get expensive. We usually set a total budget and divide it out based on what we can afford. (We NEVER use credit cards..aren’t you proud Dave Ramsey? 🙂 )   However, we have never put a big emphasis on buying lots of expensive gifts. We shop sales and use discounts and coupons as much as we can. Sometimes a toy or game may be given to more than one child, combining the gift. This is helpful on the budget too. 🙂

This year, the economy has made us have to work harder at saving and stretching and even cutting back. We won’t be able to do as much this year as we have in the past. BUT it is likely that we all should be doing that anyway. We are praying about what we should give as a family to The Gift this Sunday @ The Ridge. Many people at other churches are taking special offerings for missions and ministries. You may be thinking about supporting a worthy ministry in your area. I would challenge you to GIVE GENEROUSLY this Christmas…to OTHERS. Give to meet needs in your family, give out of love for your spouse and kids, but teach them the real reason we give…out of WORSHIP of a God who GAVE everything for us.

For a little perspective on spending, giving and worship, check out this video from Advent Conspiracy:

Water, Water Everywhere…but not everywhere

At the end of September, NASA launched a missile at the moon. The mission of the LCROSS Project was to determine whether there might have at one time been water left over in a crater caused by a comet’s collision. A missile was launched hoping to explode and cause a plume of water vapor from long frozen water particles to rise fromt he surface of the moon. A probe with sensors flew through this plume to see if indeed there was some remnant of water on the moon. Interesting Sci-fi stuff.

However, all this to me, begs the question “Why?”  What is the point? Do we think that at some time in the future we will be living on the moon? How much water could there be to tap into anyway? Is there enough to sustain a colony or science station? What if there is? What would we do there anyway? I know there are answers to all of these things. I’m not totally opposed to space exploration, but we have to be realistic about it. We were created with this perfect planet. God made this our home and positioned it perfectly in the solarsystem by His design. It is the only place that can sustain life. Any closer to the sun and we’s burn up, any farther away and we’d freeze.

Water on the moon? Okay. What does that do for us here? Did you know…

  • Roughly 12 percent of the world’s population, or 884 million people, do not have access to safe water.
  • About 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation — roughly two-fifths of the world’s population.
  • Approximately 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This is around 5,000 deaths a day.
  • Diarrhea diseases can be reduced by more than 40 percent through the simple practice of washing hands with soap and water.
  • Water-related diseases are the second biggest killer of children worldwide. Number one is acute respiratory infections, such as tuberculosis.
  • Approximately 97.5 percent of the water on earth is saltwater. If all the world’s water could fit in an average bucket, only 1 teaspoon would be drinkable.
  • Nearly 90 percent of water-related diseases are due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene; and most victims are children in developing countries.
  • The average person in the developing world uses a little more than 2.5 gallons of water each day for drinking, washing and cooking.
  • Whereas the average person in the developed world uses 13 gallons per day only for toilet flushing.
  • Every 15 seconds a child dies in Africa from lack of access to clean water

I’m no bleeding heart and I’m not just talking statistics. I’ve actually been there and seen it.

village girls draw water from hand dug well in Burkina Faso
village girls draw water from hand dug well in Burkina Faso
look at how unclean this "drinking water" is as it comes out of the ground
look at how unclean this "drinking water" is as it comes out of the ground
this well being drilled in Burkina was made possible by the Dry Tears Campaign
this well being drilled in Burkina was made possible by the Dry Tears Campaign

An African walks an average of 6.2 miles a day just to get access to water. There is also no guarantee that the water will be clean when they reach it.

Did you know that a hand dug well in Africa only costs about $1500 and can supply water for an entire village. Yet most of the time it isn’t very clean and it doesn’t last as long and can have much disease. However, a drilled well costing around $4000-5000 on average, can supply better, cleaner water because it comes from deeper below the surface. One well is said to be able to supply water for 1000 people, but we saw that the reality is many more than that will use it. Most drilled wells will last many years longer than hand dug wells.

According to The Water Project, $10 will supply one person with water for 10 years…So what did you spend on lunch today?

Now, back to NASA. The LCROSS Project cost $79 million. That’s a low cost mission by NASA standard. Yet to what end was this mission? To simply discover if there might have at one time, many moons ago…sorry! bad pun :)… been a comet the collided with the moon and produced some water vapor that froze there? Okay, so what?  Why are we spending so much money on this?

Consider this…$79 million would provide 17,555 drilled wells in Africa…a place where we KNOW there IS water and where we KNOW there ARE people who need it and can use it for at least the next 10-15 years! That would be enough water for 17.6 MILLION people. That’s more than the population of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi combined! The population of the 28 counties that make up the metro Atlanta area is 4,917,717.

Many of us in this area were inconvenienced a few weeks ago by having to boil water for a few days after the recent flooding. Some were more seriously in need and out of water for several days. Yet, we could get access to it if necessary. We could buy bottled water or, in some cases, we were given it by relief workers. In these third world nations, however, there isn’t a Kroger down the road. And there isn’t relief coming in a few days. And repairs won’t happen in days or weeks to provide clean water. The infrastructure doesn’t exist and the funds simply are not there to produce it. In my trip to Burkina Faso last year, we got the chance to meet with several government officials from regional governors to the mayor of the capital city. All of them said that the number one issue was clean water.

When was the last time you dumped out a half empty water bottle because you didn’t finish it and it got warm in your car? Just think about it next time.

And NASA and anyone in the government who might be listening…which I’m sure no one is…I’m not some liberal greenie who is opposed to space exploration, but why don’t we stop wasting our money on fruitless efforts that have no real meaning and make no real difference in the grand scheme of things; when we could be helping people HERE and NOW. We like to talk about all the needs in the world and how someone whould do something about it. Well, I just gave you one idea that would literally save millions of lives.

Just a thought.

If you want to support some worthy ministries and missions who are digging wells and making a difference check out these sites:

The Dry Tears Campaign (this was started by some local Paulding Co. teenagers)

The Water Project

Blood Water Mission

Don’t Give Up!

I read this earlier this summer when I was at a very discouraging point. I read it again today as I came across it by a secondary source. If you are a leader, no matter what you are leading, you will be tempted to quit sometimes…even many times. But if God called you to what you are doing, don’t quit. Sometimes God calls us to a course correction or even to a new direction, but don’t quit…unless of course you are outside His will to start with. If that’s the case, then get back to where He wants you to be and don’t quit there either. God has encouraged me as a leader today with this…it’s the best word I can think of on the subject. I hope someone is encouraged by it as I have been many times since I started this crazy church planting journey. Read it over and over again:

1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4



Cool Picture

Check this out. It was a picture captured by the Hubble Telescope. Some have called it the “hand of God.”

05_Flatbed_1 - APRILIt looks like a hand reaching out into the cosmos! Awesome! Very cool! More amazing evidence of our Creator!

Audio Adrenaline did a song several years ago that says, “I wanna be Your hands, I wanna be Your feet. I’ll go where you send me…” Isaiah said something similar in Isaiah 6:8.  Then in Isaiah52:7 , he speaks of how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news (the Gospel) to the world. Paul would later quote the prophet in Romans 10:15 and in essence tie both of these themes together:

And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

We are to be His feet and His hands in the world. Carrying the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go. THAT is the mission of the Church. Are YOUR feet beautiful? Are you saying, “Lord I’m here, send me. I’ll follow you, I’ll carry the gospel for You.”? That is what ALL of us as Christ followers need to be doing, not just those who are paid to be pastors, ministers, or missionaries.

It has been encouraging to hear so many stories of people who have been His hands and feet this week with our Bless It Forward Experience @ The Ridge. Go HERE and read the stories so far and share your story of how you have been His hands and feet.

Remember, it isn’t about you or the church, but it’s about HIM and the good news that EVERYONE in the world needs to hear. The hand of God is not way out in space somewhere beyond our reach. It’s right here…at the end of your arm and the end of my arm.  Be the “hand of God” today. Be the one with “beautiful feet.” Leaders, pastors, don’t just preach it…do it yourself too.

Ringworm

The other day, I got out of the shower and noticed a spot on my leg. Upon closer examination, I saw that it was ringworm. Ringworm! How did I get that?!

I remember as a kid getting ringworm from time to time. I guess I didn’t wash as good as I should’ve or I just ran around the woods a lot. I don’t know. Most likely though it came from other kids at school.

I showed my wife. One of my boys had had some ringworm recently. She said, “I guess you rubbed up against one of the kids who had it.” Ringworm can be pretty contagious I suppose.

As I thought about that, I realized that my faith should be like ringworm.

  • First, it should be contagious. it should be infectious. Other people should catch it from me. It should be impacting my life in such a way as to “rub off” on others. Okay, that’s a given. Yeah, you know that, right?
  • BUT the second thing is, I have to get close enough TO someone for it to “rub off on them.”  If I am not getting close enough to people, they’ll never catch it no matter how infectious it may be. If I am causing people who need the hope of Christ to keep their distance, then I’m not ever gong to “infect” them. Sure I need to be careful that I’m not being negatively influenced by sin, but I need to have relationships with those who don’t know Christ. Otherwise, I’m not contagious to anyone, because everyone around me is already infected.
  • How I respond in faith to the circumstances, trials, temptations in my life, will either birth faith in others or build the faith of those around me…or it won’t.

Be contagious. Rub off on someone else. Ridgers, bring someone with you this week who needs to be infected with the hope and love of Christ.