October 12, 2010

Day of Soli-two-d

From Bartram Trail 2010
I had set aside this past Thursday as a Day of Solitude. I try to get away every now and then, alone with God. My plan was to head up to the mountains and spend some time in the woods, backpacking, camping, and listening to God. My day of "solitude" turned into a day of "soli-two-d" when Kara ended up going with me, which was great. We had an awesome time!

We left Thursday morning and drove about 3 1/2 hours to Highlands, NC, where we filled up on an excellent lunch in town. Then we drove another 4 miles down dirt roads until we finally ended up at the trailhead. The plan was to hike about 5 or 6 miles down Bartram Trail, setup camp, then hike back the next day.

It was beautiful. The weather was perfect. The skies were clear and blue. The scenery was absolutely amazing. There were hundreds of different types of plants. It was a perfect day for hiking.

We setup camp around 5pm, got a fire going, and began cooking our meal. I had wrapped chunks of steak, potatoes and onion in aluminum foil. When the coals were just right I placed the two packs of food in the fire to cook. We waited patiently for the amazing meal to be finished. I pulled them out, unwrapped the foil, only to find that I had completely burned our dinner. Fail! So we had trail mix...thankful that we had eaten such a big lunch!

By 8:30 we were both ready for bed, so we climbed into the tent, read for about 30 minutes, then went to sleep. We both slept long and hard. I haven't slept that long in years!

We got up around 7:30, heated up water for coffee and hot chocolate, packed up camp and hit the trail by 9am. Another beautiful day for hiking. All kinds of birds everywhere. It was a great time.

September 14, 2010

100 Day Challenge

We just finished up a pretty awesome series at church - "Diary of a Wimpy Christian." We spent 4 weeks looking at the symptoms of a wimpy Christian, and what to do to overcome this epidemic we are facing in America. We ended the series with a challenge. I was so pumped when I counted over 700 commitment cards - that's 700 people at Southbrook Church who have agreed to join together for the next 100 days for wimp to warrior boot camp.

The challenge has 5 parts: pray every day, read through 100 major Bible passages, begin tithing, go on a local outreach event, and join a life group. Sounds simple enough. But 100 days is a long time.

I cannot wait to see what God is going to do through Southbrook Church as we all join together and practice these important disciplines over the next 3 months.

If you want to join in, you can download the Wimp to Warrior Basic Training Guide here.

August 16, 2010

It Multiplied

As the campus pastor of a fairly new campus, one of the things I am constantly watching is the growth of our congregation. Some may say that it's not about the numbers, that we shouldn't be so concerned with numbers. The way I see it, numbers is one way we can measure what's going on. If we hold steady, then are we really making any progress? But if numbers are increasing, then something is happening. It just can't stop there. Are the individuals joining our church growing spiritually? Are they developing into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ?

As I was reading in the book of Acts the other day, I came across this verse

“So the church...had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it multiplied.” - Acts 9:31

I started to think about what was going on here. I began to realize a couple of things about growing a church. Church growth is not something that happens because of me or you. We can plan, we can put systems in place, we can put guest parking signs in the parking lot and flags by the road. These things in and of themselves will not cause a church to grow.

According to Acts 9:31, (and I realize that the Bible has more to say about church growth than just this one verse) there are two things that we can learn about church growth:

1) Walk in the fear of the Lord -

What is the fear of the Lord? Simply put, it means that you have a holy reverence for God. All respect and honor and glory to goes God, in everything you do. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” 1 Peter 1:14-15 says “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

We must learn to walk in the fear of the Lord - in other words, live like a follower of Jesus Christ...don’t be a wimpy Christian.

Here's a practical example. What do you do when an inappropriate scene comes on during a movie or a TV show? Do you "grin and bear it"? Or do you grab the remote and skip it? Have you ever had the nerve to stand up and walk out of a movie? Wimpy Christians try to pretend nothing happened. Those who walk in the fear of the Lord will take radical steps to eliminate any appearance of evil.

I'm not talking about being legalistic. I'm talking about honoring and glorifying my Creator in everything that I do and say. Walk in the fear of the Lord - live like a follower of Jesus Christ...don’t be a wimpy Christian.

Acts 9:31 goes on to say

2) Walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit -

What comes to your mind when you read that word "comfort"? Sit back, relax? Enjoy your stay? A nice day at the beach with an ice cold pina colada? We seem to have this idea that God has called us to a life of comfort. The comfort of the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with you feeling comfortable about your life or your circumstance. Acts 1:8 says “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The comfort of the Holy Spirit means that while we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, we can move forward boldly, with strength and courage, leaning on, dependant on, the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. Phil. 4:13 says “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Jesus promised in Luke 12:11-12 “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

We must learn to walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he left this earth were “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

We want our church to grow. We want to see people’s lives transformed. We want to see people who are living far from God come into a life changing and eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is why we exist as a church!
If we want to see that happen, then it starts with each one of us. It starts with you. It starts with me. Walk in the fear of the Lord. Walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Then - and only then - will the flags, the signs, the music, the preaching make any difference.

July 16, 2010

Back in Huaraz

We got back down off the mountain yesterday afternoon. It felt great to sleep in a real bed again last night.

We had an amazing trek. We gave out over 200 Bibles, and we saw over 200 people profess faith in Christ! It is so humbling to be a part of what God is doing in such a different and unexpected way.

The team did great. We had several health issues, but nothing extreme. More stories will be coming in the future.

Today we are having breakfast in Huaraz. Our bus to Lima leaves at 11am.

We are all looking forward to being back home, though leaving our brothers and sisters in the faith is bittersweet.

Thank you for your continued prayers as we travel for the next two days.

July 12, 2010

Headed for the Hills

Today we hit the trail. We leave the hotel in about 45 minutes. We will drive about 2 hours to the trailhead. Today we will not hike very far...about an hour or so. The entire team is so exited to get going. We are all looking forward to ministering to families in the mountain villages.

Yesterday we went to church. It is always such a great experience for me to worship with people in different cultures. We are all created uniquely by God, and we all worship the one true God together. It is always special.

After lunch we did some shopping, then spent a couple of hours in an orphanage. Those kids are so hungry for attention. Of course when we got there, we had to watch the conclusion of the World Cup Final. They were really into it. It was fun. Then I had a little 5 year old girl attach herself to me for the entire time. I had to peal her off when it was time to leave. Several other team members had the same experience. It's hard, knowing those kids have no one who loves them the way a child should be loved.

Pray for the team today. Pray for safety. Pray for good health. We will be out of touch now until Thursday evening.

Don't forget to follow our progress here.

July 11, 2010

Sunday Morning in Peru

It's Sunday morning (as you probably already figured out from the title of this post!) and things are going great.

Yesterday we took about a 2-3 hour bus ride up to some beautiful glacier fed lakes. It was overcast, and a bit chilly, but still absolutely beautiful. We sampled guinea pig, boiled potatoes, boiled corn and cheese. We hiked for a little over an hour.

On the way back into Huaraz we stopped for ice cream. Dinner was Pollo a la Brasa, with brownies for dessert. Then we went into town and did a little shopping. Mostly stocking up on warm hats, socks and scarves. It's going to be cold out there on the trail!

Today we are going to visit a local spanish speaking church. This afternoon we are going to visit an orphanage, and take another short hike. Tomorrow is the big day, we head out on our trek. We will be on the trail until Thursday.

Thank you for your continued prayers. The team is doing great. We are having a great time experiencing the culture and getting to know each other. Pray for continued safety. Pray that God would be glorified in everything that we say and do.

July 09, 2010

Peru - Friday July 9, 2010

We made it through our first long day of travel. We flew yesterday from Charlotte to Miami to Lima, Peru. The day was uneventful, which is a good thing!

We spent the night in a missions guesthouse in Lima. Today we take the 8 hour bus ride to Huaraz. The team is doing great today. Everyone is up and eating breakfast.

The weather is cool - around 60 degrees. The locals say it is too cold! We love it!

Pray for safety today as we travel by bus. Pray that we all continue to stay healthy as we prepare for our time in Huaraz.

I will have the SPOT tracker on today - you will be able to track our progress - just click here.

July 05, 2010

It's Time!

Well, it's finally time to head back to Peru. I will be leaving on Thursday morning at 11am. I just need to pack!

You can follow our progress with real time GPS updates here.

Also, Barb Seavey will be sending out daily prayer requests and updates. You can email her and she will add you to the list - gr8tful.thankful@gmail.com

I will have some internet access and will update this blog when possible. In the mean time - we appreciate your prayers.

June 17, 2010

Way to Go!

I am so proud of all the volunteers who have worked so hard to make VBS (Vacation Bible School) in Monroe a huge success! We had 100 kids last night. God is doing some great things. We are honored to have guests from the local community in attendance. And everyone is having so much fun! The adults are loving it just as much as the kids!

We've got two more nights to go - please pray with me that God will leave an eternal mark on people's lives as a result of this week.

June 15, 2010

Peru 2010

It's a moment I will never forget. Laying on the cold wet ground inside the makeshift dining tent. I was weaker than I think I've ever been in my life. I had just endured a long night of unbelievable illness. I will never forget laying there, bundled up, trying to keep warm. My team had gathered around. The men we were traveling with had come into the tent. I asked Bob, our team leader, to translate for me. "Do you see what's going on here?" I said. "These men, who are walking from town to town, are doing exactly what the apostle Paul did in the New Testament. These men have given their lives to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to towns and villages here in the Andes Mountains of Peru. This is all they live for. This is their burning passion. They are living out the New Testament command to go into all the world, make disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

It's been almost a year since that moment. Now I have the opportunity to return to Peru and travel to more villages, to deliver Bibles to people who have never held or even seen a Bible. July 8-18, Lord willing, I will make this journey again. Our team will travel to Huaraz, Peru to partner with AWI (Good News Asociation), a Christian Quechuan organization that is actively reaching out and discipling the Quechua people, who live in remote villages throughout the beautiful Peruvian mountainside. They also have literacy and radio programs, which are broadcast entirely in the Quechua language and encourage the use of Scripture so that lives will be transformed through God's word in their own language. Our team will be hiking to several Quechua communities along with AWI to help distribute the recently translated Scriptures and minister through song, drama, puppets and games showing the love of Christ.

Please join me and my team in prayer as we prepare to take this trip. There are financial costs, as well as other logistical challenges to be overcome. I am looking forward to seeing how God is going to provide and prepare the way for us.

Thank you in advance for your prayer and financial support. I look forward to being a part of what God is going to do as a result of this trip.

June 03, 2010

Satellite - a night of worship

In case you haven't heard yet - it's official. We've finally taken the plunge! We hired a campus worship pastor for the Southbrook Monroe. Jairus Williams started this week, and will officially be leading worship this weekend for the first time.

Jairus is married to Stacey, and they have two boys, Landon and Lance. I am super excited for the opportunity to work alongside Jairus. He is a very talented musician, and as a huge heart for the things of God. Southbrook Monroe - you are about to be blessed!

But wait...there's more!

This Friday night (June 4th) at 6:30pm - Southbrook Weddington is hosting a special night of worship, and Jairus will be a part of that as well. So you don't want to miss this! Come join us in a great night of worship, and help me we welcome Jairus to the team. It's going to be an awesome evening of celebrating God for who He is!

I'll see you this weekend - I have to go tune my guitar in case Pastor Greg needs me to step in at the last minute!

May 10, 2010

Fail Trying

I had an interesting thought the other day. Actually, it was probably the result of many thoughts and experiences from the past several months. I was thinking about why things go wrong, why things don't always work out the way we want. I thought about how afraid I am to fail - I don't like to fail - do you? Then it hit me - there are two ways to fail, really: 1) you can fail trying, or 2) you can fail by simply doing nothing.

Thomas Edison failed thousands of times in his attempt to invent a working incandescent light bulb. But listen to what he had to say about that: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." He didn't consider himself a failure at all! I would have probably given up after about the third try. Thomas Edison understood that unless you are willing to fail trying, you will probably never succeed. The alternative is to quit - thereby failing by doing nothing.

US general Colin Powell coined a rule called the “P40/70″ rule. It’s a formula to help leaders in battle determine when there’s enough evidence to take action. The thinking is that if you have less than 40% probability of making the right decision with the amount of information you currently have, then you should seek more information. But how much more? Powell’s theory is that if military leaders decide to wait until they have enough information to give them a greater than 70% probability of making the right decision, they are likely to make the wrong decision "because that decision will be too late." The battlefield conditions will have changed.

Maybe we should apply the P40/70 rule to our own lives. I'm not suggesting we live recklessly and out of control. Planning is important. But if we spend all our time planning for that guaranteed success, chances are we will be too late, thus resulting in failure.

Are you taking a risk? Step out of you comfort zone, make a risky decision in obedience to what God is telling you to do. Don't wait too long, or you will certainly fail.

May 03, 2010

Clean Up!

Southbrook Monroe stepped it up this past Saturday. The city of Monroe sponsored a clean up day. We had a group of 23 people who joined the effort to pick up trash along the streets in and around Monroe. What a great bunch of workers! Good job you all!

April 20, 2010

A Cemetery - You've Got to be Kidding! (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the post from yesterday, written by my former pastor, Rev. David Gales:

The question of where? when? and most of all why? had to be answered for me (as well as with you). In 2002 I started looking for a place to walk because my doctor wanted me to get daily exercise. Starting at a nearby school track, it became boring and it was just not for me. One day I noticed a cemetery across from the school. Something {I feel it was the Lord Jesus} drew me to begin walking around and in the cemetery each day for one hour approximately three miles. The well kept grounds provided such a quiet peaceful place. Who would have thought that this would become my meeting place for fellowship with my Lord?

Seeking not to become stressful with a rigid schedule, I would and do walk in the cemetery sometime every day. Weather does not play a roll. I love to walk in the rain with my little umbrella. Whether it is in the snow or sunshine, my walking in fellowship with my Lord overrides the elements. I have always carried a golf club with me (kind of like Moses and his staff) as I walk. It is now 2010! I have been walking in the cemetery with my Lord now for eight years. It is one of the top ten highlights of my life. I didn't know what I was missing for sixty-one years before 2002.

The most important question is the WHY? It is hard to explain. Fellowship with Christ is somehow undefined with words. It is an experience in one's inner being. Walking physically and mentally is refreshing and rewarding to one's health. Walking with Christ though is much more rewarding to one's spirit (the place where Christ lives in you). It is the inner man described in the Bible. Well, this is kind of how it works with me. I always begin by thanking Him for the privilege to walk with him. I then thank him for Phyllis as the great gift he has given to complete me. I claim the promise for her healing everyday in Luke 8:50."Be not afraid, only believe, and she will be healed." It varies as to what we do as we walk together. (Christ and I) Sometimes I sing out loud (it doesn't bother anyone there).

Such old hymns like "Leaning on the everlasting arms", “Sunshine in my soul", "When we walk with the Lord", and "How Great Thou Art" spring forth at times. My desire is to live before the audience of one. Sometimes, I recite the ten doctrines of God's character that I learned in the early 70's. Maybe I will recite the different names of God given in the Bible that describe who he is. There are times when we just want to talk to each other. I put all my cares in my two hands and throw them over my shoulders to the Lord (I Peter 5:7 and Psalm 55:12). It really feels so good.

The greatest blessing has been in memorizing and meditating (marinating) passages of scripture that speak to my own life. As of this day in March 2010, I have memorized around eight-four verses and passages that I constantly repeat and claim as my own promises from God. Dr. J. Allan Blair was my example and mentor in memorizing. These verses and passages are printed out on paper and I carry them with me as I walk with my Lord. Never thinking that I could do this, what a rich experience!!!

Seeking not to boast, but only in the Lord, opportunities to let Christ live through me to folks I have met while at the cemetery, has been a pleasant surprise. One fellow named Ray Kinley has come to know Christ and now is happy and in church. Another has thought God was asking him to go into the pastoral ministry. It is like having a small congregation as new encounters keep showing up as I walk. Friendships have been established with cemetery workers and many people I have met. I have found that every person that I meet in the cemetery is hurting and in need of the Lord's love and encouragement. Some have said, "You are an angel sent by God to me today". When I come home and tell my wife, she quickly brings me back to earth saying "You are no angel." I agree!

Well, that is my story of fellowship with Christ daily. It was the main thing in Jesus' life with his father. He desires it to be the main thing in each of us. I believe it is the missing ingredient in modern Christianity. There is a lot of churchianity but it appears that there is little Christianity. Where is your cemetery? When is your daily time? Why not let it be unique and special with you and your Lord? Would it please the Lord for you to cherish this fellowship? He cherishes it with you. As he did in the Garden of Eden, he still comes seeking fellowship with his created ones.

It's the real deal! "Fellowship with Christ makes the complicated simple."

A Cemetery - You've Got to be Kidding! (Part 1)

My former pastor, Rev. David Gales, was the pastor of Plaza Baptist Church for many years. It was while a member of this church that I met my wife, was called into full time ministry, preached my first sermon, and received my ordination. Reading this email spoke to me in a special way, and I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Becoming a Christian is having a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Life. Being a Christian is having fellowship with the risen Jesus on a daily basis as he lives in and through us to meet the challenges that confront us in life. Salvation is a relationship. Sanctification is a fellowship. The sin question has been settled once and for all by the cross. The life question is settled by constant fellowship with the living Son of God. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith"

Hebrews 12:1.

Some people have churchianity instead of Christianity. They have fellowship with their church. They attend, serve, administer, give, love one another, and have great fellowship with their church family. Other folks have real Christianity. They have fellowship with Christ. Oh yes, they will love his church, but their main fellowship is with Christ. The church can take the place of Christ. The devil's cunning devise is to lull us into putting fellowship with the church in the place of fellowship with Christ. You can have churchianity without Christ, but when you fellowship with Christ first and foremost, the church will be a loving extension of that fellowship.

David said, "One thing I ask of the Lord, and this is what I seek. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock” Psalm 27:4-5 NIV.

Do you see it? Fellowship with and dependency upon Jesus Christ is the main thing. Well, how is this made practical?

For it to be practical it must be so personal. You cannot copy another believer because fellowship with Christ is just between you and him. He knows your human and divine DNA. He wants your fellowship to be so special just between the two of you.

Having said that, I can only share my own walk with the Lord. Here it is for what it is worth (it is worth everything to me). I have struggled throughout my spiritual track record with finding what would be my unique fellowship with the Lord. I read and heard about giants in the faith and wanted so much to be like them. Vance Havner, the author, evangelist, and revival preacher, had such an attractive private walk with his Lord. He loved the outdoors, birds, and being alone with his Lord as he walked. I am sure he had an influence on my fellowship alone with Jesus daily as I too have walked. Reading his book "Threescore and Ten" several times has been such a blessing.

(to be continued)

April 14, 2010

Family Devotions

So we hear that we are supposed to do it. We know it's supposed to be a good idea. But the reality is, very few do. Trying to gather the family around the table for any amount of time is nearly impossible to do these days. But I decided several years back that that is exactly what we are going to do, every day (well, Monday - Friday anyway).

It is required in our home that everyone be at the table, ready for school, with breakfast in hand, ready to walk out the door, at 7:20am - for family devotions. Does everyone like my rule? NO! In fact, more often than not, I seem to get complaints. "It's too early!" "I could have slept another 15 minutes!" To which I respond "Wah..."

I know - I'm mean. But I have a higher motivation. Here's what I've noticed: everybody seems to enjoy the time. We laugh together, we pray together, and then we laugh together. It hit me, my kids are going to look back on these moments and remember that our family was intentional about spending focused time together. These are memories that will be instilled into who my kids grow up to be later in life.

It's not hard to do - it just takes a strong conviction, a desire to see our family bond. I choose a devotional book, or a book of the Bible. I spend about 10 minutes reading to the family. Sometimes we discuss it, sometimes not. Then we spend about 10 minutes sharing with each other what our plans are for the day - what tests, or other challenges we are going to be facing. Then we pray. That's it. Oh, and we laugh a lot in between all of that.

I love my family. I am blessed by God to have such an amazing wife and such great kids. My prayer for you is that if you haven't already, that you would start a family devotion time with your family. What are you waiting for?

March 23, 2010

Must Not Be God's Will

Really? How do you know?

I just had a conversation with a group of guys about God's will. We were talking about Pastor Rob's message from this past weekend. Something he said really stuck with me. "Many times we are waiting on God when He is waiting on us." You see - sometimes the green light is right in front of us, but we sit, unmoving, because we can't see past ourselves. We are too self absorbed to notice that God is waiting for us to go!

One of the guys mentioned a friend they had who had moved all the way across the country. He had moved to work with a Christian ministry. He really believed before the move that this was God's will. He believed that God had called him to move his family several thousand miles to work with this ministry. 4 years later he is questioning the move. In fact - he is moving back. Apparently there have been a lot of difficulties, a lot of "closed doors" along the way. He is thinking maybe this wasn't God's will after all! Really?

Are we out of God's will when things don't go according to our plans? When I am uncomfortable, when things don't go my way, does that mean I am out of God's will?

We have created a culture of comfort seeking Christians. I mean, after all, God wants me to be happy, right? So if I am struggling, hurting, or facing any kind of difficulty along the way, I must be out of God's will! That's what we say. That's crazy.

Moses was clearly called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God spoke to him through the burning bush. It doesn't get much clearer than that. Yet, several months into their wilderness journey, things weren't going so great. The people were complaining. Food was running low. Water was hard to come by. Disputes were breaking out. It wasn't really a lot of fun. It was a very difficult time. Did Moses do the wrong thing? Should they return to Egypt just because things were hard?

Just because everything is going according to your plan, does not in any way mean that you are not in God's will! God never once called us to be happy, to be comfortable, to 'enjoy' every step of the way. He did promise poverty and persecution.

Are you in God's will? Don't be too quick to say no! Check your heart, check your motives, remember your calling. But don't run and hide just because things are not going according to your plan.

March 05, 2010

Unleash 2010

I had this idea about 6 months ago. I thought I'd take our leadership team from the Monroe Campus to Unleash - a one day church conference at Newspring Church in Anderson, SC. So I presented it to the team, and most of them went out and bought their own tickets! I couldn't wait to go!

Well, about 2 months ago Pastor Rob got wind of it and said: "Why aren't more people going?"
I said: "You want to take more people? Let's do it!"
So he said: "We're gonna need two buses, we're taking 100 people! O, and everyone needs a tshirt!"
I said: "That's great - we can't pay for buses, we have no money."

So after some discussion, we decided to put it out there. We started announcing that we had purchased a block of tickets, that we wanted to charter 2 buses, and buy t-shirts for everyone that went. We put out the challenge - "The church can't pay for any of this - so we need people to step up and help us out." Within the first week both buses and all the t-shirts were paid for. People began signing up to go (purchasing their own tickets, taking days off of work).

Finally the day arrived. We loaded up on the buses yesterday morning at 5:45am (*yawn*). And we were off!

And let me say this - it was an amazing day! It was so awesome as a pastor at this church to see so many sold out and excited leaders from Southbrook learning, growing, interacting, being challenged, and building passion for the heartbeat of Jesus Christ. The sessions were great, the worship was great, but by far the best part was hearing people's hearts on the way back.

I've been saying this for awhile - and I still believe it. God has HUGE plans for Southbrook Church. Something HUGE is right ahead! And He is in the process of positioning us to handle it. Yesterday was one giant step in the right direction. I am blown away that I get to be a part of this. Why God would choose someone like me to have such a role as this I will never know. I hope you feel the same way!

Southbrook Church - I hope you're ready. There are some big challenges coming up. Impact is one of those. I hope you're ready. I can't wait!

March 02, 2010

Now or Later?

I've been reading and re-reading a book called Primal by Mark Batterson. He has done a great job in this book of helping the reader get back to the basics of Christian living. We need to strip back all the layers that we've added to our faith, things that we think are important, that really have nothing to do with what God originally intended.

We're in week 1 of our Impact series here at Southbrook Church. We're talking about money. Yes - we are a church - and we talk about money. Jesus talked about money more than any other topic. He knows that we are easily sucked into materialism. He knows that our hearts easily stray. And we want to be obedient in teaching and learning about the place money has in each of our lives.

I've been recently thinking about this a lot in my own personal life. It's easy to think that I deserve more. I work hard. I deserve to be paid well! Don't you? I think we'd all say that about ourselves. In Mark Batterson's book he talked about setting a spending ceiling. Decide right now how much you need to live on. Then choose to live on that from now on. Anything above and beyond you simply give away.

Now I can't back this with Scripture, this is just the way I have been thinking about things lately. The Bible says that where your heart is, there will your treasure be also. So the bottom line is this, you can store up wealth here on earth, and enjoy it for a few years. Or you can store up treasure in Heaven, and enjoy it for all of eternity. If you do the math, it's not hard to figure out that eternity is a lot longer than our short time spent here on earth!

It would be nice to have a bigger, nicer house. It would be great to have a bigger, fancier truck (with 4 wheel drive, of course!) But these aren't needs. There are so many things that we have come to accept as needs in our lives, that are in reality just nice comforts.

What's my point? I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I'd rather live on less now, and put as much energy and resources into growing God's kingdom in this life as possible, and spend all of eternity enjoying the fruit of that labor. What about you? Are you going to spend the rest of your life accumulating stuff? Or would you rather spend eternity enjoying the reward for what you do here?

February 28, 2010

Happy 1 Year Southbrook Monroe!

We did it! One year ago today we celebrated the grand opening of Southbrook Monroe. And today we celebrated all that God has done over the last year. We started out with around 50 committed people. Today we average around 150 each week! Here are a few of the highlights:

• 14 people give their lives to Christ.

• Baptized 24 people from Monroe.

• Expanded children’s ministry by adding a nursery and an elementary
wing. Now have The Cove theme for our kids.

• The Closet held 3 shopping days and helped over 700 families giving
away over 20,000 articles of clothing.

• Had our first VBS with 65 kids attending.

• Had a community 4th of July party in the parking lot.

• Helped needy Benton Heights elementary families with backpacks of
school supplies at the beginning of the school year, turkey dinners
for Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts for their children.

• Participated in a walk-a-thon for Crisis Pregnancy and helped raise
needed funds.

• Held church in the park with a fellowship picnic afterwards. Also
had a couple get engaged at the park that day…Mack Johnston and Sadie

• Started 5 new lifegroups!

• Started an ESL class on Thursday nights to reach out to our latino
community. Currently have 6 adults and 6 children attending

• Held a community craft fair.

• Started a student ministry that now meets every Wednesday nights.

• Had 5 of our adult members go on a missions trip to either Peru or
Equador. Had 2 of our youth go on a local missions trip.

• Had a service day where we went out in the community to help at
schools and other churches doing yard work, painting, organizing, etc.

• Started a Wednesday night Bible study class.

• Helped out the Union County Christmas Bureau by opening our church
and offering coffee and conversation while families waited to be seen
at the Bureau.

We kicked off our 4 week series called Impact today. For more about that, click here.

After the service people were challenged to find and join a LifeGroup. I saw a lot of excited LifeGroup leaders meeting and greeting, andinviting people to join their groups. If you're not in a group - then you better get moving!

Stick around - the next month is going to be an amazing adventure! And I can't wait to see what God does over the next year!

February 22, 2010

Let's Go Men!

This past Sunday Glenn Wagner spoke at Southbrook Church. It was a great message. If you're a man and you missed it, then you need to go listen to it right now!

He hit the nail on the head. Men - it's time for you to stand up and lead! God is looking for courageous men who will quit running around like cowards and stand up and lead their wives and their families. It takes a real man to do this.

I hear from women all the time who are sick and tired of waiting for their husbands to step up! Guys - God made you the spiritual leader in your home! If you're not leading, then you are living in sin! If you are making excuses, then you are hiding.

After the service I had a group of ladies come up to me. They are all in a LifeGroup together. Here is what they said: "Guys need to know that we think it's sexy when a man leads his family courageously!" Guys - did you hear that? It's not your looks they are interested in (though I'm sure that doesn't hurt). Women are very attracted to men who lead their families courageously!

So...if you missed it - go watch it here. And then step it up!

January 30, 2010

Snice Day

Is it snow? Or is it ice? Can't really tell so we're calling it snice!

We were awakened way too early by Kelsey screaming "IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT!" So much for sleeping in on this cold winter morning.

So we did what any normal family would do...we got dressed up and hopped in the truck to go sliding around on icy roads!

Here's a great video we made of Garren on the sled:

January 14, 2010

Posts Worth Checking Out

I have come across a few good posts lately. Rather than try and recreate the thoughts here - why don't you check them out?

They made me think - what about you?

Why Are We Saved? (Part 1 of 3)

Be Careful Little Thumbs What You Text

Whose Calling?