December 21, 2009

Sunday @ Southbrook Monroe 12.20.09

What a wonderful and refreshing time we had as a church yesterday! Here are the highlights:
  • The Student Band led worship - and did an amazing job! God moved in people's hearts. I can't wait to have them back for our Christmas Eve service.
  • The elementary children enjoyed their first Sunday in the newly opened children's wing. What a blessing! After months of raising funds, volunteer work days, and a lot of work done by Dane, Joe and many others, we were able to finally start using the new space.
  • Pastor Rob reminded us once again of the true meaning of Christmas. Emmanuel - God is with us. Not "was with us" or "will be with us." God is with us, right here, right now.
  • I continue to be amazed and simply blown away by the hearts for serving at Southbrook Monroe. There is a true desire to reach out to the community and love people with the love of Jesus.
I am truly looking forward to an amazing Christmas Eve service. It starts at 3:30pm. Come on out as we celebrate the birth of our savior together.

December 18, 2009

What You Need to Know...

When I went to seminary, for so called "pastoral training," they taught me how to prepare a sermon. I learned how to dissect the Greek and Hebrew languages. I learned how to logically argue for and defend the Christian faith. I learned a lot about cults and world religions. But to be honest, I don't remember learning anything about how to console a family who is grieving over the death of a child. I was never taught what to say to someone lying on their deathbed. I never learned anything about hiring and firing church staff. Seminary didn't teach me anything about managing a church budget.

It's no secret that we have been walking through some pretty tough times as a church body at Southbrook Church. It's been a rough couple of months. I've been meeting for hours on end, discussing everything from church structure to budget cuts. I've seen and learned a lot about leadership and church business. Oh - and I did get to do a little bit of real ministry in the midst of all that! We baptized 4 people last Sunday! We saw 4 people accept Christ the week before! In the midst of the storm amazing things continue to happen.

Yesterday I received an email from a member of our church. Her mother is days from leaving this earth and going to be with Jesus. She asked if Pastor Rob could come and see her and visit with her. Now, Pastor Rob doesn't do a lot of hospital visits. It's not that he doesn't love people, it's that with a church this size he could never do it all. That's why we hire other pastors. That's why we train LifeGroup leaders. The Bible teaches that we are all ministers. It's not the pastor's job to visit everyone, it's the pastor's job to train believers to care for one another.

But this was different. And Pastor Rob felt like he needed to go. I had the privilege of going along. As soon as we walked in the room, her eyes lit up. And then I got to see a side of my pastor that many people never see. Pastor Rob pulled up a chair, opened his Bible, took her hand, and with a deep sense of love a caring he read Psalm 23 to her. He looked into her eyes and encouraged here. Then he prayed for peace.

Why am I writing this? I don't know. Maybe, in the midst of all the junk that is going on I want people to see what I saw. I want you to know that you have a lead pastor who cares deeply about the people in this church. I want you to know that he is a man called by God to lead this church who wants nothing more than to see people's lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.

December 10, 2009

It's For The....Pets? Really?

I was snooping through the shopping bags that Nancy and the kids brought home from the store the other day. One had pet supplies: a doggie brush, doggie treats, and a little doggie toy. So, being the miser that I am, I asked: "What are these for?" The response: "They're for a pet drive at Kara's school." A pet drive? Yup, you heard it right...a pet drive. It's that time of year. Pet's everywhere are gathering around to be close to their families, to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. So Kara's school wanted to reach out to those less fortunate pets, the one's without families. Let's collect pet toys and treats so the lonely doggies and kitties can feel included in the cheerfulness of the season. We certainly don't want them to feel left out.

Are you kidding me? Someone hold me back, my palms are getting sweaty as I type this (I hope that's not bad for the computer). My neighbor's house just foreclosed. I know people who don't know where their next meal is coming from. Many are without jobs, barely able to keep their families clothed. And we're doing a pet drive?

I was meeting with a friend the other day at a coffee shop. The TV news was talking about the Global Warming Summit. Again - hello? There are people without clean water. There are people without enough food to eat! Why are hundreds of people gathering to talk about climate change (as if we can really control any of that) when there are millions of people dying because we care more about our SUVs and pets? Why?

I am not opposed to pets - I have a dog, a fish, a cat and two turtles. We've done the hamsters and Guinea Pigs. I am opposed to misplaced and wasted resources.

Why not focus a little bit more on people than pets and the weather? Can we come together and do that?

December 09, 2009

Monroe Campus Updates

There are quite a few amazing things happening at Southbrook Monroe.

  • We are just about ready to open up the Children's Wing. The carpet guys are in there right now finishing up. I cannot wait to see that room finally get some use! The kids are excited, the teachers are more than excited. It's going to be a great tool for advancing God's Kingdom!
  • This past Saturday we had about 15 volunteers go next door and help the Union County Christmas Bureau with "Give a Kid a Coat" day. It was a tremendous blessing. We opened up our building so people could wait inside instead of standing out in the cold. A couple of our volunteers faithfully invited every one there to come back to church the next day. About 10 of them did! Sweet!
  • I had the honor of preaching this past Sunday. 4 people (2 of them were invited the day before) prayed to ask Jesus into their lives. What a great day that was!
  • This weekend we are baptizing. I already know of 4 or 5 people who are ready to be baptized. I am looking forward to seeing God move in a mighty way.
As we quickly approach the end of the year, I am blown away as I look back at what God is doing. I am humbled to be a part of the expansion of God's Kingdom. I look forward with anticipation at what God has planned for next year!

December 03, 2009

It Was Very Large

Ever woke up in the morning feeling as though you never went to sleep? Sometimes I wake up and my mind picks up right where it left off the night before. Sometimes those things that consume me are huge! They are very large! I'm sure you've felt the same way. None of us can say that we never have a care in the world. We all have things that come up that cause us to worry, and to wonder if we will be able to take the next step.

Today in my quiet time I was reading Mark 16 - the story of the women who were headed to the tomb of Jesus on the day after the Sabbath. They were going to complete the embalming process so that they could lay Jesus' body to rest. On their way it seems they had a problem. They had something on their mind that seemed like it could be a huge roadblock. Verse 3 says "And they were saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?'" They were scratching their heads wondering how they would be able to get to Jesus' body when there was a large stone blocking the entrance to the tomb!

As I look back at insurmountable situations in my past, I remember worrying and wondering how I would ever be able to overcome them. Who will help me move the roadblock? Who will help me overcome this impossible situation?

Well the women show up at the tomb and guess what! They found out very quickly that they were worried about the wrong thing! The stone, though it was very large, had already been moved! Wow! Instead they had a completely different and unexpected problem..."Where's Jesus?"

We waste so much time worrying about things that we think are under our control. When in fact, God already has control of the situation, and He's already solved the situation! I can imagine the women sitting at home trying to decide if they should even go. After all, there's no one to help us move the stone, it's very large! But they went, and found a completely different and unexpected event instead.

As I look ahead and see insurmountable objects, very large stones, in my path, I pray that God would remind me of these women who went to the tomb. I pray that I would not allow things that are not mine to control to consume me. I pray that for you as well.

November 19, 2009

Children's Wing Video Tour

Things are really coming along in the Children's Wing! Check out the video tour. We should be in within a couple of weeks!

Children's Wing Video Tour from Geoffrey Janes on Vimeo.

November 16, 2009

What's Your Excuse?

I am reading through Matthew. I got to chapter 8 last week, and read the story of the man who wanted to follow Jesus:

19 And a scribe came up and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." 20 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." 21 Another of the disciples said to him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 22 And Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead." - Matthew 8:19-22

At first glance, Jesus sounds like a cold, mean grouch when he tells this man to leave the dead to bury their own dead. But take a moment, let's really try to figure out what's going on here. The first man said he wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus took one look at him and said "Listen, I'm homeless, I don't own a thing. I don't know where I'm sleeping tonight, and I don't where my next meal is coming from." In other words, you need to make sure you know what you're getting into here.

The next man jumps up and says "Pick me! Pick me! I'll follow you! But first, I have to go and take care of my dad. You see, he's getting up there in age, and in the next several years he might die. So I need to take care of the family business until then. But when he's gone, I will follow you!" Jesus was not impressed, at all. Jesus looked him in the eyes and said: "Follow me, and let the dead and dying take care of themselves."

Everyone of us is full of excuses for not doing what we know we should do. We are experts at avoiding obedience. We know deep down when we should say something, do something, but for some reason we come up with our list of logical reasons why we should run the other way.

What is God telling you to do? Are you avoiding His call? I'm not talking about a career change, I'm talking about right now. Is there someone you need to reconcile with? Is there someone you need to forgive? Do you owe someone an apology? Or is there something else? The big question is "What's your excuse?" You know what you are supposed to do, quit making excuses, quit finding your own logical reasons for avoiding whatever it is God is calling you to do right now. Don't waste another minute! Obey today!

November 11, 2009

Celebrate Recovery

Last night I had the honor of visiting our Celebrate Recovery ministry here at Southbrook Church. Wow! They have something special happening there! We enjoyed a spaghetti dinner at 5:30. I enjoyed spending time with people there.

Nathan and Jennifer Campbell lead this group. I am so proud of them. They came to me a couple of years ago...they needed some help and guidance. We met a few times, worked on some things, and now here we are two years later. They are leading a vibrant ministry. It was a joy to see them working together as a team to pull off the entire evening.

I stayed to hear Chad Manus lead the group in worship. Here's another great story of life transformation. Chad started coming to the Monroe campus just about 1 year ago. He was saved. I had the privilege of baptizing Chad. Two of the three songs Chad sang last night were songs he wrote! He did a great job to the glory of God.

I was blown away at what I saw last night. God is doing a mighty work on Tuesday nights at Southbrook Church. You might want to drop in and see what it's all about. I know they would love to have you!

November 09, 2009

Clean My Temple

Saturday we observed 24 hours of prayer for our church. From midnight to midnight people came to church in 30 minute shifts to cover our church and our community with prayer. It was a special time. It was awesome to be reminded throughout the day that someone right now was at church praying. Very cool.

As I was taking my turn, I opened my Bible to the book of John. We've been studying John on Sunday mornings. When I got to chapter 2 I read about Jesus cleaning out the temple. It says that he made a whip of cords, and then went on a rampage, turning over tables, pouring out money, chasing animals and people out! Pretty intense. I finished the chapter and started to pray. I prayed that people would realize their need - that they are all sinners in need of a savior. Then I was reminded that I too am a sinner in need of a savior. In fact, I needed to be cleaned out like the temple!

The Bible says that our body is a temple. The Holy Spirit comes to live within true believers. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit! It struck me that I needed Jesus to make a whip of cords and drive out the evil thoughts, evil actions, pride, lust, anger. I needed Jesus to clean my temple!

At Southbrook we want to help people find Jesus in a personal way. We want to take people to the foot of the cross, and introduce them to the One who can rescue them from themselves. But until we get on our knees and confess our own sins, we will be ineffective. We will be held back from our full potential in Christ.

So let me ask you - do you have unconfessed sin in your life? Is there something in your temple that needs to be driven out? Ask Jesus to deal with your sin. Allow Him the freedom to clean house. We will be amazed at what happens if we do.

November 04, 2009

Monroe Campus - Some Thoughts

It's been one year since Pastor Rob twisted my arm and made me take on the campus pastor job in Monroe. And I haven't regretted it for one minute! I have to say I wasn't to sure about this whole campus pastor thing. I can also say we still have a lot of figuring out to do. We are exploring new territory. And we are seeing God use the people at Southbrook in amazing ways.

I meet once a month with our ministry team leaders. We don't have any paid staff at the Monroe campus yet (besides me). But we have some super-committed volunteers, and as far as I am concerned, they are staff. At our last staff meeting, about a month ago, we were debriefing a joint baptism service we had attended with Weddington. Everyone of these staff volunteers came from Weddington originally. I was pumped when I heard some of their comments! "Monroe is becoming it's own church." "We didn't really know anyone at the Weddington campus." "Weddington didn't feel like our church home anymore." Understand this - none of these comments were meant to be derogatory, they simply drove home the fact that these volunteers believe in and love what we are doing in Monroe. Southbrook Monroe is developing its own personality. It's awesome to watch.

I look forward with anticipation to the next thing God does with us.

October 28, 2009

Children's Wing Update

As you know we are in the process of up fitting the Children's Wing. We joined together over the summer months to raise the funds to complete the construction. Many of you gave faithfully and sacrificially. We did a three month giving campaign, which technically ended in August. But the need for funds was still there, and many of you have continued to give. We are about $2000 short of our projected need. Praise God! Thank you for your generous gifts!

Dane Kovach has been leading the effort to complete this task. The Lord has provided us with a plumber and an electrician who are offering their services and expertise for free. We also have a great group of volunteers who have been giving their time and talent to help us get the job done. Our goal is to be in the building before Christmas. And what a relief that will be for Children's Ministry! The kids have been meeting in a small room since January.

Thank you for giving faithfully to this project. If you would like to make a donation, be sure and include a note, or write on the check, "Monroe Children's Wing."

Dane told me we had the electrical and plumbing rough inspections today. Yipee! That means we can complete the drywall and get ready to paint the walls. In fact - if you want to help hang some drywall, come on out this Saturday at 8:30am. No experience necessary, we just need your help!

The HVAC crew is busy getting the heating and air conditioning ready. Things are really starting to fall into place. Here are a few pictures so you can get an idea of what is happening.

October 14, 2009

But You're So Busy...

"But you're so busy..." That's what I often hear from people. "I wanted to email you, or talk to you, but I know how busy you are, so I decided not to bother you."

I've heard this one enough that I thought it would be good to set the record straight. Yes, I am busy. But that is not the point. We are all busy. Here's my take - you are my job. You are my responsibility. When God called me into the ministry, He called me to care for people. I can't care for people if I am not in relationship with people. Jesus was busy. So busy that the disciples forbade the little children from coming to see Him. But what did Jesus do? He said "Let them come! I always have time for these." Now I'm not saying you are little point is this: it doesn't matter how busy you think I am, I will make time for you.

So yes - I'm busy. But don't let that stop you from asking that question, or making that phone call. I will make time for you.

October 13, 2009

Hold My Hand

My wife's van had a tire that was getting low on air. I had filled it back up, but the air pressure slowly leaked out, so I decided to take it to have it looked at. I took Kelsey and we went to Discount Tire. I dropped the van off and we decided to go and visit Walmart while we were waiting. Discount Tire and Walmart are in the same parking lot, so off we went, through the busy parking lot, of course, holding hands. Who would ever think of walking through a parking lot like that without holding their 4 year old's hand!

On the way back to pick up the van, as we were walking hand in hand, we came to an empty parking lot next to Discount Tire. There was no traffic, so I let go of Kelsey's hand and said "go on!" So she ran on ahead of me...the next thing I knew, she was laying face first in the parking lot screaming bloody murder! She had not noticed a small rise in the pavement, and had tripped, skinning her knees. I ran to pick her up, and she immediately had these words for me, through her streaming tears: "Daddy, it's your fault, you're the one who let go of my hand and told me to go on ahead!"

I tried not to laugh in her face. My fault? Give me a break! 30 seconds earlier she had been pulling at my hand, trying to get free, so she could run on her own! I finally let her go, and it's my fault?

I suddenly had another thought. When "bad things" happen in life, who do we immediately blame? Don't most people turn to God and say "Why? Why did you let this happen? It's Your fault!" Really? Is it really God's fault that I got hurt when I made a bad choice? Is it really God's fault when pain comes into my life?

You know what I think? I think that God walks with us, much like I was walking with Kelsey. He protects us from danger. He helps us make smart choices. But there comes a point when He allows us to "run on ahead." He let's go of our hands so we can experience freedom, independence. Not in a "lose your salvation" kind of way. I mean more in a metaphorical sense. He allows us to freely choose something, knowing we might get hurt. Does that make Him mean? Not any more mean than it makes me for letting my daughter run on ahead!

I heard someone last week talk about failure. He said "failure is essential." Without failure, we would not learn. When we make a mistake, that is our opportunity to learn! I hope Kelsey learned to be more careful when running through a parking lot. Sometimes we have to learn the same lesson several times, but we hopefully learn something from our mistakes. Without ever falling, without ever failing, we would not learn the way we do through our failures and mistakes.

So let me ask you this. Is God "holding your hand"? Are you begging God to let you run on ahead? Are you trying to pull away so that you can go try something new and different? When He does let you go, and you fall flat on your face, just remember who it was who was pulling in the first place! Don't run back to God in tears blaming Him!

Hold on to His hand, but be willing to learn from your mistakes as well. Remember, failure is essential.

October 02, 2009

Chad Manus - Behold Story

Here is the third interview from church on Sunday. Chad started coming to the Monroe Campus when we were still meeting in the school. He's been faithfully attending, and it has been so great to watch him grow in his relationship with Jesus. Enjoy!

Chad Manus - Behold Story from Geoffrey Janes on Vimeo.

October 01, 2009

Behold Stories - Karen Jahn

As promised, here is the second interview from this past Sunday. Karen Jahn has been a faithful part of the Monroe campus for about 6 or 8 months. She is a joy and a blessing to have. Here's her story:

Karen Jahn - Behold Story from Geoffrey Janes on Vimeo.

September 30, 2009

Behold Stories - Mike Harvey

This past weekend, while the staff was away doing community service, we had three people from our own congregation share their story of life change. We video taped it, and although the sound isn't the greatest, you can still hear pretty well. Today's video is Mike Harvey. Mike is the principal at Benton Heights Elementary School, and we are blessed to have him as a part of our campus.

Check it out - leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Mike Harvey - Behold Story from Geoffrey Janes on Vimeo.

September 29, 2009

Staff Serve - Part 2

Sunday, as awesome as it was, just wasn't enough! We headed out Monday morning to Camp Canaan near Rock Hill. Camp Canaan is located on a 150 acre island on the Catawba river. Just minutes from the busy city of Rock Hill, is a secluded, quiet getaway. It was so peaceful. It was very beautiful.

We had some breakfast, then Nick gave us a tour of the island. They have some great cabins and dining facilities. The vision for the future is pretty amazing as well. Then we got to work. We picked up sticks (more like tree limbs), moved rocks to create some landscaping, pulled weeds, and moved a bench and a sign. It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time working together as a staff to get some things does for Camp Canaan.

Here's a picture of the crew (at least the ones that were still there when we took the picture. There were others who had to leave early!)

And guess what? This weekend you get to take your turn! We're all going out to serve in our communities. Pastor Rob will tell you all about it here.

Staff Serve - Part 1

What a weekend! For church this past weekend we decided to step out of the norm and do something a little bit unexpected. As a staff, instead of going to church as usual, we went and served in the community. We pre-arranged for several volunteers in our church to handle things while we were gone. It turns out - things ran fine without us there!

As a staff, we traveled to the north Charlotte area - to the Harvest Kitchen. We worshiped at their church service. When we got there, some served in the kitchen preparing lunch. Others helped out with the clothing ministry, while others helped assemble toiletry bags. You see, most of the people that attend this church are either homeless, or are very poor, not sure from day to day what they will even eat or wear.

What a blessing it was. I was honored to preach. Now I've never preached to a predominately African-American crowd before, but I sure had a blast. After I got done Nancy told be I "got my groove on." She even told be that I said "Can I get an Amen!" What? I don't remember saying that!

After the service we cleared the room, set up tables, and served lunch. It was a very cool experience. I look forward to continuing our relationship with this ministry.

September 21, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Yesterday turned out to be quite a day! To be honest, when my alarm went off, I didn't really want to get out of bed. I was hoping it was Saturday, or even Monday...but was Sunday. (Is it weird that a pastor didn't want to get up on a Sunday?)

But I did, I got up and made my way to church. We were "uniting" our campuses for a very special baptism celebration. The anticipation began to build as the beginning of the first service approached.

We ended up baptizing around 50 people in the first service. So cool to watch. Second service I got to be in the pool. The Monroe Campus was there in the second service as well. It was so fun to look out and see all the blue "Southbrook Monroe" shirts. You guys are awesome!

The time to baptize came at the end of the second service. We have to pools at the front of the room. Pastor Rob in one, I in the other. We began baptizing, and the lines continued to grow. Then I baptized someone from the Monroe campus. "I didn't know you were getting baptized today." "I didn't either." I heard that from several. God was moving in hearts, calling people to obedience. One after the other, they kept coming! I think I had baptized about 10 from Monroe when I looked up to see who was next...I was taken aback. There stood Garren (my 12 year old son). He smiled at me, climbed in the pool, and I baptized him. So cool!

All total we baptized over 100 people (112 is the latest number I've heard). Some were brand new believers, others were finally following Jesus Christ in obedience.

What an amazing day. I will not soon forget what happened there.

September 16, 2009


I knew this would happen...eventually. And now it finally has!

Work on the children's wing has finally begun! We've been talking about it all summer - we had 30 elementary kids stuffed in their current room this past Sunday. This is a much needed and anticipated improvement.

One more thing - we still need to collect about $10,000 to complete this project. So be praying about how you can help us out!

September 14, 2009

The Center of the Universe

In our study through the book of Ephesians on Wednesday nights, I came across a pretty cool thing. Last week we looked at the second half of chapter 1. When we got to verses 20-23 I was blown away. Here it is:

"he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." (Eph. 1:20-23, ESV)

Now, read it again in The Message:

"God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven,21 in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever.22 He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything." (Eph. 1:20-22, MSG)

Jesus has been placed in authority over everything, from galaxies to government...He is in charge and in control!

And now, check this out...

"At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.
23 The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. He tore down the wall." (Eph. 1:22-23, MSG)

Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed and stressed out when I think about growing a campus. I feel responsible when our attendance drops or remains the same. I feel disappointed when first time guests don't come back. (Please understand, I am not just going for more numbers...however, each number represents an individual, a life that God cares about very much. The higher the numbers, the more people we are reaching).

But if what Ephesians says is true - that the church is not peripheral to the world - the world is peripheral to the church - if it is true that church is at the center of all that Christ rules - that means that everything Christ rules, from galaxies to government, all centers on the church, the body of Christ!

If this is true, then we are a part of the most important thing in all of creation. We are a part of the center of all that Christ has been placed in charge of! He has chosen to put His church at the center of His rule!

Here's the thing. We could easily sit back right now, and pat each other on the back, and talk about the "good 'ole days" of Benton Heights. We could look back and remember the days of unloading the trailer each week and having church in a cozy little elementary school auditorium. We could easily look at all that has been happened and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. (After all...we've managed to grow from 60 to 130 so far this year. That is pretty good growth!) We have amazing servants, people working hard in every area of ministry.

We could easily put things on cruise control - and we might continue to grow some, we might stay the same - we certainly would continue to get better at what we are doing right now.

But I don't believe we as a church are called to coast. We have room in our building to grow. We have the opportunity to reach so many more people for Jesus! But its not just going to happen. We will have to work at it.

I hope - I hope that each of you is actively inviting people to come to church. I invited 5 or 6 people just this week. If we believe the Bible, then we must believe what Ephesians says - that the church is at the center of everything Christ does. If we believe that is true, then we had better get on board and start bringing people to be a part of it.

All I can do is praise God for allowing me to be a part of the very center of everything He rules! Thank you Jesus.

September 09, 2009


We began a study of the book of Ephesians last Wednesday night at Southbrook Monroe. We are going to work our way through this book in about 12 weeks...the more time I spend in this book the more I realize - there is no way we will cover everything in this short time. Ephesians is so packed with great information. We could spend years on this one.

So we kicked it off last week. We'll continue tonight, by the way, 6:30pm.

I wanted to share this little piece with you from last week. Ephesians 1:7 says "In Him we have redemption through His blood..." Jesus redeemed us with his blood. You may have heard that phrase before. It sounds like a church thing to say. It sounds like something you would expect to hear in church. Actually it's very true - it's the very center of what we believe about Jesus Christ. But I don't think we always get it. I think we have become so used to the words, that we kind of brush over it. So let's think about what it truly means.

Jesus (who is in essence God) had to leave he glory of Heaven. He had to become human, he became his creation. He had to live on this earth a perfect, sinless life. He had to suffer a cruel and painful torture. He had to face the horror of being made sin for us. He had to face the torment of God's wrath, and ultimately he suffered death.

Still - this may sound a bit routine. This is the Easter message. So let's try to make it personal. Imagine what that would be like for you or for me:

Suppose you wanted to save someone from the penalty of their sin - let's say a murderer. Even though you are innocent, you set out to save someone who is guilty. In order to save them, you must enter into the prison system. You would have to face the shame of being kept on death row. Everyone would know you are a murderer (even though you're not). You would have to face the wrath of the legal system. And ultimately you would have to face death...not because you did anything wrong, but because you decided you wanted to save someone from their sin.

Now think about the person you died for. If they truly understand what you sacrificed for them, how do you think they would respond? Go out and kill again? No! Not if they truly get it. I think they would be much more likely to change their way of living, telling others about you, and what you did for them!

Now - you can only save one person, one time. What Jesus did was enough to save all humankind. Because he is infinite his saving power is infinite. So our message is infinite as well. Not only should we be sharing relentlessly what Jesus did for us, we should be telling people that he has the power to save them as well!

So - knowing what Jesus did for you, will it change the way you live your life?

August 31, 2009

The Safe Zone

This morning was our monthly early morning men's gathering with Pastor Rob. Now, I'll be the first to admit - I'm not all that excited about getting up that early - especially on Monday! But I will also say this - it is so worth it. So many men show up and are so pumped and encouraged and challenged when they leave. It is exciting to see passion to lead in such a great group of guys.

This morning Pastor Rob talked to us about risk...about getting out of our safe zones. He used Moses as an example of someone who took big risks, and as a result was used in big ways by God.

I'm not going to go into all the details. But basically we should be asking ourselves these questions: What in your past is keeping you from stepping out of your safe zone? What's the worst that could happen if you did take a risky step of faith? How bad could it really be?

He left us with these three thoughts:

1. You will never naturally leave the safe zone.
2. Growth only begins when you leave the safe zone.
3. The safe zones actually rob us of our greatest moments and memories.

What do you think?

August 10, 2009

Taking Chance

Driving to the beach, we decided to rent a movie to watch in the car on the way. We stopped at our favorite rental store - Redbox - and finally settled on a movie called Taking Chance. If you have not seen this movie, I would suggest you drop everything and go pick it up right now. Grab the kids, and make them watch it with you. This has to be one of the best movies I have seen in quite some time.

Kevin Bacon plays a U.S. Marine who had served in Desert Storm. Now he is a number cruncher, is married, has children, yet longs deep down to have some part in the efforts going on in Iraq. He is a true marine at heart, and feels like he needs to do more to be a part of the war.

So he volunteers to escort a fallen marine back to his hometown. The movie follows this dedicated marine as he keeps watch over the remains of a marine he doesn't even know. It is an amazing reminder that there are many men and women giving their lives everyday so that we can continue to enjoy our freedoms here in America.

Great movie, very well done. I don't suggest watching it in the car...the tears they will be a-flowin'!

Thank you to all those who are fighting for our freedom. You are truly under-appreciated.

Thank you...

August 03, 2009

Peru 2009 - Day 5

We were dropped off in a small village around noon. We unloaded, strapped on our daypacks and began walking down a dirt road through a small village. It didn't take long for a group of children to start gathering. They watched us as we began walking. I walked over and took their picture with a digital camera. When I showed them the picture on the viewfinder, they went crazy! They wanted me to keep taking pictures and showing it to them! That was fun...

We stopped and ate lunch, then hit the trail.

Two Rules:

Before we set out, Ade gathered us all around and gave us some instructions. He said "There are two rules! First rule - nobody goes ahead of me...second rule, don't ask how much longer..." I like this guy! Those are the rules when I travel!

Everyone was feeling great - we were all excited to finally be hiking. This is what we came for - and it was finally coming to reality! We ended up walking for about 3 hours. We stopped to rest along a dirt road leading into a small village. As we waited to find out where we would be spending the night, we played around with some of the children in the area.

The people are very shy. It was not easy to take pictures. Kids and adults would hide their faces as soon as they saw the camera aimed in their direction. But after spending some time together, they would let their guard down.

Our packs, tents, and other supplies were traveling by donkey. They followed a different trail than we did. Since we were stopping at villages along the way to find kids and schools, the donkeys would take a shorter, more direct route. After about 45 minutes, we finally heard from the other group. Our campsite was just up the road, in a soccer field in front of the school.

We all joined together and did a quick sweep over the field to pick up garbage. Then we spent time hanging out with the kids, playing soccer (at 11,000 feet!), and just relaxing.

After dinner the presentation began. A sheet was hung in the makeshift soccer goal. A generator was fired up, and a projector and DVD player were turned on. We showed the Jesus Film in Quechuan (the local language). After the film, Pushpi (one of the leaders of the organization we were with) got up and sang, and spoke, and then we got to help him hand out Bibles to the people. It was quite an experience.

It also got pretty cold. As soon as the sun disappears behind the mountains, the temperature drops quickly. We were glad to finally crawl into our sleeping bags for a much needed night of rest.

July 29, 2009

Peru 2009 - Yungay Tragedy

On day 3 we had the opportunity to visit the town of Yungay. Yungay is a small town in the valley just south of Huaraz. It is also the site of a horrible tragedy.

On May 31, 1970, an undersea earthquake off the coast of Casma and Chimbote, north of Lima, triggered one of the most cataclysmic avalanches in recorded history – wiping out the entire highland town of Yungay and most of its 25,000 inhabitants.

Around 3:23 PM, local time, while most were tuned in to the Italy-Brazil FIFA World Cup Match, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Peru. Lasting 45 seconds, the earthquake crumbled adobe homes, bridges, roads and schools across 83,000 square kilometers, an area larger than Belgium and the Netherlands combined. Registered as one of the worst earthquakes ever to be experienced in South America, damages and casualties were reported as far as Tumbes, Iquitos and Pisco, as well as in some parts of Ecuador and Brazil.

In Yungay, a small highland town in the picturesque Callejon de Huaylas, founded by Domingo Santo Tomás in 1540, the earthquake triggered an even greater calamity.

The quake destabilized the glacier on the north face of Mount Huascarán, causing 10 million cubic meters of rock, ice and snow to break away and tear down its slope at more than 120 miles per hour.

As it thundered down toward Yungay, and the town of Ranrahirca on the other side of the ridge, the wave of debris picked up more glacial deposits and began to spit out mud, dust, and boulders. By the time it reached the valley - barely three minutes later 3,000 feet-wide wave was estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic meters of ice, mud, and rocks.

Within moments, what was Yungay and its 25,000 inhabitants – many of whom had rushed into the church to pray after the earthquake struck – were buried and crushed by the landslide.

The reported death toll from what came to be known as Peru’s Great Earthquake totaled more than 74,000 people. About 25,600 were declared missing, over 143,000 were injured and more than one million left homeless. The city of Huaraz was rubble, the valley buried in mud, and coastal towns such as Casma were also shaken to the ground.

In Yungay, only some 350 people survived, including the few who were able to climb to the town’s elevated step-like cemetery.

Among the survivors were 300 children, who had been taken to the circus at the local stadium, set on higher ground and on the outskirts of the town.

Today, Yungay is a national cemetery, and the Huascarán’s victims are still vividly remembered.

To this day, a crushed intercity bus, four of the original palm trees that once crowned the city’s main plaza and remnants of the cathedral still stand.

July 21, 2009

What's That Noise?

I've got a problem. It's becoming an addiction. When I told my wife, she said "again?"
I have become uncontrollably addicted to cycling...again.
I can't wait to get out and ride...again.
So the other day I was out riding...on my road bike...just a nice Sunday afternoon ride. The weather was awesome. The ride as going great.

I also have another problem. I tend to hear things. Sometimes I'll hear things that no one else hears. Little annoying sounds, sounds that just don't quite belong.

So there I was, riding along, and I kept hearing a light sound, like metal on metal. It was a very faint sound, like a piece of metal was loose, tapping, tapping tapping. I just knew something must be coming loose on the bike. So I stopped, I fiddled around, I shook the bike, I tried to make the sound occur. I just wanted to know what it I could make it I could fix the problem.


So I got back on and sure enough, it started again. So I stopped...looked, shook the bike...still nothing!

That is so annoying! What is making that noise?

A few miles down the road, after trying unsuccessfully to ignore this irritating little sound, I reached up to unzip my cycling jersey, just trying to created a little more ventilation. Then I realized what the sound was. I wear a cross around my neck. It is metal. It had been hitting against the zipper. That was the irritating little sound I kept hearing!

Then this thought occurred to me. How often do we look around at all the "obvious" sources to look for God's will, God's direction, for our lives. How often do we feel that nudge, or hear that "irritating" sound in the background, and look to our own humanity to try and solve it?

And how often do we miss an opportunity to hear from God, because rather than going to the cross, the source of our salvation, we try to "fix" things in our own power?

Don't ignore the voice of God. He will patiently and softly speak to you, and it is up to you to listen, discern, and answer His calling.

July 09, 2009

Peru 2009 - Lessons from Moses

Bob - our team leader - had asked me to share a devotional with the group. So after a long day, we all gathered around the nice big fireplace in the restaurant.

Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of captivity. After quite a bit of convincing, Moses finally submitted to God's call. After many years of wandering, the people were nearing the time to enter the Promised Land. Moses, however, had been forbidden by God to enter the land. In Deuteronomy 3:23, we read Moses' words to God:

"And I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, 24 'O Lord GOD, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? 25 Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.' 26 But the LORD was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the LORD said to me, 'Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again.

I was struck by Moses' comment in verse 24. "You have only begun to show...your greatness and your mighty hand." Amazing. Think about it. Think about all that Moses had already seen God do! First you have the fact that his life was saved when we was a mere baby. Then when he approached Pharaoh to take the people out of Egypt, he saw God perform miracle after miracle. The plagues, the death of the firstborn, the parting of the Red Sea. Then for years in the wilderness Moses watched as God led them with a cloud by night and a pillar of fire by night. God supplied manna from heaven for the people to eat. Moses had seen God do so many great and mighty things in his lifetime. Yet he says "You have only begun to show...your greatness and your mighty hand." Moses understood something about God. God is infinite. God can do more than we can even imagine. Our minds are so limited we cannot even grasp the greatness of God.

But what was Moses asking for? "Please let me go over and see the land beyond the Jordan." Moses had been forbidden by God from entering the Promised Land. Why? Check out Numbers 20:

The people had run out of water. They were thirsty. They were complaining to Moses. So Moses went to God. "What should I do?" God gave Moses very clear orders.

"Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle." (Numbers 20:8)

God told Moses to talk to the rock, and water would be supplied. But keep reading - look what Moses did:

"Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock." (Numbers 20:10-11)

Moses hit the rock! God told him to talk to the rock, and Moses, in his anger, hit it!

And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." (Numbers 20:12)

So God told Moses he would not be entering the land. All those years Moses had done so much. And now, one time, Moses gets angry, and God says "That's it - you are not going in!" Seems harsh. Why would God be so mean so suddenly?

Here's what I think. I think God wants the glory. I know God wants the glory. In fact, I believe that is why God punished Moses this time. Moses - whether he meant to or not - by saying what he did and striking the rock like he did, made it look like he was the one that made the water come out of the rock. He made it look like it was his idea. He made it look like it was in his power. Rather than putting God at the top, he elevated himself to the level of God. And that is what God cannot stand.

Moses was forbidden from entering the Promised Land, because he took the focus off of God and led the people to believe that Moses performed a miracle. God said "you did not uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people."

Here's the take away. Everything I do, I do only because God allows me to do it. Without God I am nothing. But my human nature leads me to bring attention to myself. To make sure people like me, that people notice how great I am. I like it when people tell me I did a good job. Now, there's nothing wrong with doing a good job, there's nothing wrong with being noticed. The problem is when I take the glory. The problem is when I fail to redirect the attention to God, without whom I would be nothing.

What about you? When is the last time you recognized the source of your power. Whether you go on a missions trip to another country, or feed homeless people in your own town, remember this - it is for God and because of God that you do these things. Any other motive is wrong. Giving glory to any other source is wrong.

Remember - God has only begun to show you His greatness and His mighty hand.

Peru 2009 - Days 3 & 4

6/21/09 - We slept good last night...until about 4am. Apparently that's when roosters get up in Huaraz. They must be blind, having no idea the sun doesn't come up until 7!

We have breakfast on the 4th floor. It's quite a climb up those flights of stairs. It really does take your breath away! It is hard to get enough breath up here in the clouds! The view from our restaurant is awesome!

Church at 11am. We walked a couple of blocks. The church meets in a small corner of a building, right on the street. We got there a little early, so we hung out. We were eventually greeted by one of the members. I had totally forgotten it was Father's day until she came up and asked me if I had children! Then I got a big hug and a Happy Father's Day in Spanish!

The service was great, although all in Spanish. We enjoyed worshiping with our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a blessing that was. At the end of the service two young girls got up and sang a song to fathers, then they passed out little chocolate shoes to all the dads. Pretty cool.

After lunch we headed up the side of a mountain overlooking Huaraz, where a giant cross stands. We drove up, but hiked back down - trying to acclimate, getting used to hiking at higher elevation! After the hike we went and visited an orphanage in town.

The kids were so excited to have us there. We played games. They played with our digital cameras. We played more games. They arranged the games so that we ended up losing. During one game of hot potato, I ended up losing and had to stand up and be a statue, moving my arms and legs into whatever position they chose! After playing these games for a while they decided to teach us how to dance. They had choreographed dances that they insisted on teaching us. We thought walking up a flight of stairs was hard! Try dancing to their aerobic style dances for `0 minutes without passing out! We had a blast, but we had to say goodbye.

- The next day we drove 2 1/2 hours to beautiful lake Llanganaco. It is located in the Huascaran National Park - at an elevation of about 14,000 ft. We took a couple of hikes, while enjoying some beautiful scenery. The Andes mountains are absolutely beuatiful. I was reminded of the sheer cliffs of Yosemite, and the vast mountain peaks of Alaska. It is difficult to even describe. Pictures don't capture the immensity of what we saw and experienced.

We stopped in at a picnic shelter where a couple of ladies were selling food. We tried some of the local delicacies: Roasted Guinea Pig and Potatoes, ChoCho beans, and roasted corn. Delicious. The Guinea Pig (called cuy in Peru) is a local delicacy. What did it taste like? The closest thing I can compare it to is rabbit, or iguana. It was a little bit chewy and gamey. Not bad for a rodent!

That night I led devotions with the group. I'm gonna save the content for another post. In the mean time, click here for a whole lotta more pictures...

July 07, 2009

Peru 2009 - Days 1 & 2

Alright, alright, a little patience come some trip reports! I know some of you are anxiously waiting to here from me. So here goes. I will try not to bore you with to many details - but there are a lot of great stories. Let me know your thoughts!

Day 1

Got up around 6am - had to be at the airport by 10am to meet the team and check in. Everyone showed up with luggage in tow. Looking around it was hard to believe the day had finally arrived. We had been meeting as a team for about 3 months in preparation for this trip...and it was finally here!

We grabbed some Burger King and headed to our gate. Everything was going according to schedule...until we got to Miami. We landed in a rainstorm, and they closed the ramp. So we sat on the tarmac for about 1 hour (it may have been longer). They finally let us off the plane, and we headed to catch our flight to Lima. It was delayed. We finally took off around 6:30pm. Here we go!

The plane landed in Lima at 10:30pm (local time - they are 1 hour behind us). When we got off the plane we were greeted by airport employees wearing masks. I guess the fear of unknown diseases was a real thing there. We made it through immigration and customs...only Brad was stopped at customs. A quick scan of his bag and they let him go. We found our bus, which had been pre-arranged, and headed to the guest house where we would spend the night.

Day 2

Breakfast was fresh baked bread and jelly. This is the typical breakfast in Peru. The bread was amazing. Then we headed to the bus station to get ready for the 8 hour drive north to Huaraz, where we would spend the majority of our time. We had several 1st class seats, which were downstairs. The coach seats were all upstairs, on the second level. The view from the front row what pretty crazy, like a ride at disney world. I enjoyed sitting downstairs just fine. The chance for motion sickness upstairs was to great for me.

They showed movies, served lunch, and played a rousing game of Bingo...yes, Bingo! I almost won...maybe next time?

After about 3 hours heading north up the coast we took a right turn and began our ascent. We would travel from sealevel, over the first ridge at about 14,000 ft, and arrive in Huaraz at 10,500 ft. We began taking ibuprofen to help with the altitude.

The scenery was gorgeous. The coast was barren, very desert like, very sandy. As we began to gain elevation, the vegetation began to appear, We started to see creeks and rivers flowing. And when we crested the big mountain we saw the Andes mountains right in front of us. It was absolutely breathtaking! Words and pictures cannot do justice to what we saw. It was amazing!

One big change we had to get used to was the time the sun sets. At 6pm it got dark. We pulled into Huaraz at 6:30pm. We were met by Rachel (her husband, Ade, would be our guide). She took us to the hotel to check in. Then we went to her house where she had prepared the most amazing chicken soup for dinner. It really hit the spot. We headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

July 01, 2009

Peru - Initial Thoughts

Well we're back. It feels good to be home again. The trip to Peru went way too fast, yet I was so glad to be back in the arms of my family again. I have tons of stories to tell. I hope I can find the time to share many of them here. For now, here are some of my thoughts.

We worked with a group of godly men, Pushpi, Tim, Anchi and Ade. Yaepo is another member of their team, but he was not able to travel with us. These men worked closely with Wycliff to translate the New Testament into Quechuan. They are now working on the Old Testament, which is about 50% complete. Our task was to hike with these men to villages in the Andes Mountains, to deliver the good news of Jesus Christ, and to bring Bibles to people who had never seen God's Word in their own language. Many of them have never see a Bible in any language.

As I watched these men, I began to realize something that blew me away. These men are a modern day Acts story in action! They spend their lives walking from village to village telling people about Jesus. There are hundreds of these villages. Nobody knows how many there are. There is no way to really count. But these men have a plan to touch them all.

We spend a few days with them. We passed through maybe 6-8 villages. These men will go out again in a few days and continue on their mission.

Here's the thing. You always hear people come back from missions trips, talking about life change, how they will never be the same again. I am not going to try and convince you have any of that. I will say this - I saw and experienced things that God did. I watched things happen that only God could orchestrate. I was a part of something much bigger than me. It was beautiful.

If you've never been on a missions trip, then all I have to say to you is go. I don't care if you don't have the money - go. I don't care if it doesn't make sense - go. I don't care what your lousy excuse is - just go! God will take you to a whole new level in your walk and experience with Him. Go!

June 28, 2009

Greetings From Lima!

Well, it's our last day in Peru. Our flight leaves tonight at 1130pm. I am so excited to return to the US and give my wife and kids some big hugs.

This has been a tremendous experience for the entire team. I have so many stories to tell. I plan to share many of them here in the coming weeks.

Thank you all for your prayers. God has done some amazing things.

Today we are going to church at Flamingo Road church, a multisite campus here in Lima. The original comapus is in Florida.

This afternoon we are going souvenir shopping. Then off to the airport for our overnight flight homw.

See you all very soon!

June 23, 2009

Quick Update from Peru!

Hello everyone! I am excited to take this chance to post a quick update. We have internet access at our hotel in Huaraz. It's been an adventure just trying to check email!

The las several days have gone really well. The team is getting along great. We are learning a lot about the culture. We are tasting local food (yesterday we ate Guinea Pig...yum yum!)

We've spent our time here so far acclimating. Huaraz is at 10,500 ft above sea level. It takes your breath away...literally! Sunday we visited an orphanage here in town. We had so much fun playing with the kids...they kept making us get up and dance. We all got a great aerobic workout!

Yesterday we drove about 2 hours south to hike at a higher elevation - around 14,000 ft. And today we finally are hitting the trail. We will travel with 15 donkeys to carry our gear. We have a team of guides, and our own cooks traveling with us as well. The plan is to walk from village to village stopping in each village to talk to people. We will stop at schools and ask permission to do a short program with the kids. Each night we will show the Jesus film (in Quechuan, the local language), one of the guides will preach, and make an invitation.

Please continue to pray: pray for our health, for our safety as we hike, and most important, pray for lost souls to come to faith in Christ.

And don't forget to follow along! click this link to see where we are each step of the way.

See you soon...Geoffrey

June 18, 2009

Ready to go...

I am all packed. I hope I didn't forget anything important! I had a brief moment of freaking out...I couldn't find my passport! We found it, hidden in my backpack...whew!

Our team is meeting at the airport tomorrow morning at 10. We'll check-in and head to Miami, then to Lima. We are scheduled to arrive in Lima, Peru at 11pm.

I am so excited. It's been hard to concentrate on work this week. I can't wait to get going. I am really looking forward to this.

While on our trip, you can follow my travels. I will turn on My Spot (satellite tracking device) and you will be able to see where we are along the way. Just follow this link and watch our progress!

We return to the USA on June 29. I will update the blog with travel reports and pictures as soon as I can. Thanks for your prayers and your support. See you when we get back!

June 11, 2009

Peru Update

In 1 week and 1 day I will be boarding a plane headed for South America. My missions team will spend 10 days in the Andes Mountains in central Peru ministering to the Quechuan people. We have the honor of distributing Bibles which have recently been translated into their language. What a joy it will be to hand someone a Bible, in their own language, for the first time! That is something we all take granted.

As the day to depart approaches, I'd like to ask you to join me in prayer. This is an exciting trip, but also holds many unknowns. We would love to have your prayer support. Here are some things you can pray for specifically:

1. Pray for our team - for unity, patience, flexibility. Pray that as we minister to others, we will also take the opportunity to minister and care for each other.

2. Pray for travel safety -
- Friday, June 19 - fly to Lima, Peru
- Saturday, June 20 - 8 hour bus ride to Huaraz, Peru
- Monday, June 22 - begin 5 day trek to Quechuan villages in the Andes Mountains
- Saturday, June 27 - 8 hour bus ride back to Lima, Peru
- Monday, June 29 - fly back to US

3. Health - we will be spending much of our time at 10,000-12,000 feet above sea level. This alone can present added health concerns. Pray that our team stays healthy and strong.

4. Finances - we are still short on funds. As a team we still need to raise about $4000. We serve a big God who we trust will provide.

Well, I've got some packing and shopping to do. Thank you for your prayers and financial support. If you or someone you know would still like to make a contribution, you can make checks out to Southbrook Church and mail to 5607 Monroe-Weddington Road
Weddington, NC 28104
. Be sure to include a note, or write "Geoffrey - Peru" in the memo line.

Or you can donate online:

Thanks again for your prayers. I can't wait to update you on what God does with this amazing opportunity.

June 08, 2009

God & Money

We serve a great God! He does things in special ways, unexpected things, and I love being a part of that! Yesterday at Southbrook:Monroe we took a special offering. We've been talking about it and praying about it for several weeks. We meet in a converted store front. Two doors down from our main worship center, we have leased another smaller space. This will become our elementary children's wing. In order to upfit the space we need about $20,000.

So we've been praying and yesterday we took up an offering. We each had the opportunity to make a 3 month commitment to help fund the new children's wing (they had 19 elementary kids in a small room yesterday...they are packin' them in!). I explained our goal, I explained our need, we prayed, and we passed the baskets. Now check it out. We had about 70 adults in the service. We had 32 cards turned in, 32 family units who have pledged to fund the children's elementary wing. Here are the results:

The total amount given yesterday was $2597.

The total amount pledged for the next 3 months was $24,522!

This is above people's regular commitments to give to the church. I love our church. I love the generosity of those in our church. I love that God takes people, puts them together, and unites them under His cause. Praise God! I can't wait to get started on this new project!

May 21, 2009

God Supplies

This morning I was at the City of Monroe Building Permit Office getting paperwork squared away for the new pre-school room we are building. In the process, we decided to add some plumbing for a sink, and I had to alter the permit to include plumbing. The nice lady behind the desk was a great help! She had me sign some things, she printed out some things, she smiled at me and said "That'll be $75..."

I panicked - (mostly on the inside, though I'm sure she could see it in my face). I asked - "Credit card?" "No, cash or check...there is an ATM in the lobby." I normally don't carry cash. Who needs it? Everybody who has caught up with the times can take a credit card. But not the City of Monroe. They haven't caught up with the times yet. Anyway - I remembered that I had some cash in my wallet - cash that I was supposed to deposit, some to turn in to various places for various things - I just happened to have some cash. So I pulled out my wallet - I counted, and I was dumbfounded. I had exactly $75 in cash. No more - no less!

God takes care of us in the smallest ways. How cool is that?

May 18, 2009

Sunday @ Southbrook Monroe 5.17.09

Yesterday was simply amazing! Nancy called it a "day of blessings." We had so many cool things happen, I'm not real sure where to start!

With VBS coming up, we have several needs. People really stepped up! We had someone offer to pay for all of the VBS t-shirts, someone is donating gift cards for the purchase of food items, someone donated a video camera, several people signed up to help with VBS! And who knows what else, I still haven't heard all of the things that went on!

We celebrated the Lord's Supper as a part of our Sunday service. That is always a special time. As I looked out across the people sitting in the chairs, I was blown away. We had brand new baby believers taking communion for the first time as Christ followers. So cool!

Sunday afternoon we offered two connection classes: 101 (church membership) and 301 (spiritual gifts and personality). Again, I was blown away! We had 22 people take 101 and sign the covenant to join Southbrook Church! 4 of those I had just baptized 3 weeks earlier! Most have only been attending Southbrook for less than 2 months!

God is moving. People are getting on board. Amazing things are going to continue to happen. And I am overjoyed to be a part of it!

May 14, 2009

Sticky Church Conference Recap - Part 1

This past Monday I attended a great conference at Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, GA. The purpose was to give church leaders practical ideas on making their church "sticky." What can we do to close the back door? People visit, but to they stay?

Over the next few days I'm going to share some highlights:

Greg Surratt, pastor of Seacoast Church, spoke first -

1. Always preach a sticky message - "Anytime you take your stand on anything other than the gospel, you will shrink your target of who you can reach, or minister to." If you take a political stand, you will shrink your target. If your stand is on being cool and edgy, you will shrink your target. If you take your stand on personal preferences, you will shrink your target. But the gospel crosses all boundaries. Take your stand on the gospel. Reach as many for Christ as you possibly can.

2. Have a sticky confidence - "You have been chosen by God to lead this church." And don't you ever forget it! It's not because of me that things go good. In fact, I am more likely the one messing things up! It is because God called me, and when I faithfully follow him he leads to victory. My confidence must be in God and God alone. Trust him, and him only.

3. Stick to a sticky strategy - "The church is Jesus' girlfriend, he is madly in love with her!" The Bible says that the church is the bride of Christ. Jesus loves the church immensely. He laid down his life for her. In fact, the church is the hope for this world. We need to do everything we can to faithfully lead Christ's bride. As leaders, we must confidently pick the strategy God is leading us to use, and stick with it for a long time. Don't stop and chase after every new idea that comes along. Be who you are, where you are, and faithfully follow the strategy God has led you to follow. He will bless this in the long term.

More later...

May 04, 2009

Sunday @ Southbrook Monroe 5.03.09

Yesterday was our last 11am Sunday morning service. Next week we move back to 10am service time. 10 seems to be a more popular time. This move enables us to add a second service later this year at 11:30.

We've been using the time before our services for volunteer training. Yesterday we had all volunteers come together and watch Seth Godin's talk on "This is Broken." If you haven't seen it, it's worth watching.

Then I asked people to consider areas in our church that are "broken." It was great to hear some folks talk about things that could be done just a little bit differently, that might really make a big difference. Some were worried that they were complaining. It's not complaining when we're working toward a solution.

The rest of the day was great. The worship team did an awesome job. It was great to hear the congregation singing along! The message was great. And then after church we had our Newcomer lunch. 13 people stayed, and several signed up to serve in ministries.

God is continuing to do great things at the Monroe campus. I am humbled and blessed to be a part of it!

Monday Morning Baptism!

I'll admit it. I don't enjoy getting up early. I don't enjoy leaving the house before dark. Once a month a bunch of men from Southbrook gather to hear a challenge from Pastor Rob. Once a month, at 6:30 in the morning.

So this morning was that once a month. I dragged myself out of bed, showered, drove to church, and grabbed a donut and some coffee. Pastor Rob made his challenge.

1. What one small thing are you not doing that you know you should be doing?

2. What God sized thing are you being called to step out in faith and do?

Of course, this is not the exact was early...but the basic intent is there (I think).
Anyway. After we got done Jay came running over to me and said "There's a guy at my table, he wants to be baptized! It's the one small thing for God that he's been putting off! I have secured a swimming pool at Art's house, if you can baptize him, we can go right now!"

So, arrangements were made, a group of guys followed us over, and right then and there, in the early morning, I had the privilege of baptizing 3 men in a backyard swimming pool.

Great way to start the day...great way to start the week!

What have you been putting off?

Here are some pics - enjoy:

April 29, 2009

Baby Believers - Part III

If you've been keeping up, I shared a couple of ways over the past week that human babies are a lot like spiritual babies. A spiritual baby is someone who is a new believer, or it could be someone who has been a follower of Christ for many years but just hasn't grown or matured very much in their walk with Jesus. I'll finish up this series today. So far we've seen:

1. Babies like to be handled
- and we like to handle babies.

2. Babies have their "safe place" - and they don't like to change it.
3. Babies want milk - and that is enough for them.

Now let's move on:

4. Babies like to sleep - a lot! If you go to church, let me ask you this - Why? Why do you show up on a Sunday morning to you local church? And where do you sit, and why? Do you sit near the front, hungry to hear? Or near the back for a quick escape? Do you listen - pay attention? Or does your mind begin to wander? I guess what I'm trying to say is "Are you sleeping in church?"

I remember the story about an elderly gentleman who showed up faithfully Sunday after Sunday. But as soon as the sermon began, he would fall asleep in his regular seat on the back row. One day, the pastor, who had noticed this trend for years finally decided to teach the man a lesson. He said to the congregation "All those wishing to have a place in heaven, please stand." Of course, the sleeping man was the only one who didn't stand. The preacher had everyone sit back down, then said to the congregation in a very loud voice "All those wishing to have a place in hell please STAND UP!"

Immediately the man was awakened, and having heard the words "STAND UP!" he did! After a moment of confusion, the man said "Pastor, I don't know what we're voting on here, but it sure seems like you and I are the only ones standing for it."

Babies in Christ, though they don't necessarily fall asleep while sitting through a sermon, are certainly content to sleep through life - in a spiritual sense. Rather than look into the things of God, study, learn and grow, they pass the time doing other things. They waste a lot of valuable time involved in activities that have no value. Are you a baby Christian? Are you sleeping through life when you could be learning and growing in your walk with Jesus?

5. Babies want their own way - now! Babies learn quickly what it takes to get what they want when they want it. They scream, cry, yell, throw tantrums - all in an effort to get us to give in to their every desire. It is so much easier to give in than to try and ignore the selfish longings of babies.

Baby believers, especially those who have been believers for many years, are this way in the church. "I want my favorite kind of music." "I want to hear a certain kind of preaching only." "I want to park in my favorite spot." "I want my kids to get special treatment." On the list goes. These are baby Christians!! These are people who don't understand God's kingdom, and kingdom growth. They are only concerned about what they can get, and making sure they get it now.

Are you a baby Christian? Grow up! Go on to maturity. Get over yourself, look around, learn, grow and find someone else you can help in this journey called life.

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes work, it takes discipline. I hope you will do whatever it takes to move forward in your relationship with Jesus Christ.