We Are Moving!

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A NEW OPEN DOOR

We are excited to share with you that we are moving to Birmingham, Alabama! I will be joining the team at ARC, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve church planters stepping out in faith to launch life giving churches. This is an answer to prayer, and we thank God for this wide open door for ministry.

WE LOVE OUR FRIENDS

Our family has been blessed to have some amazing people in our lives. We want to thank all of our spiritual family in Baton Rouge, and especially those we get to do life with on a daily basis, for being there for us over the years. We also want to honor all of the friends that God has connected us with that may not live nearby, but are close to our hearts. We appreciate every relationship as well as each gesture of support and encouragement.

THANK YOU

I have been a part of a tremendous company since the beginning of the year, and I want to thank Devin Zito and the team at Teknarus for that opportunity. We also want to honor HPServe, not only for the incredible work that they do, but for allowing Amy to play a part in this amazing ministry.

A SPECIAL PLACE

Baton Rouge is a special place. It is where Amy and I met, were married, and also where Sophie was born. I think everyone should come to Louisiana at some point to experience the beauty of Cajun Country. We will miss this city, the people, the Tigers, as well as the food. We expect our last day here will be August 10.

ROLL TI—-GERS!

Thank you for taking the time to read this little memo, and for sharing in our joy. If you are ever in Birmingham let us know!

Identity, Influence & Impact

“In the past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who really led the forces of Israel. And the lord your God told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be the leader of my people Israel.’”

-1 Chronicles 11:2

Saul was positioned before man, but David was positioned before God. Identity, Influence and impact is strengthened or weakened based on which position you value more. Striving and peace are determined by which one gives you confidence, and which one is of little concern. Choose wisely, because as this passage shows, one always outlasts the other. 

God’s Up! Hope’s Up!

Sometimes it takes time for God’s promises to show up on time. I used to get discouraged or even upset when I felt God gave me a promise, and then it would take longer then a couple weeks for that promise to show up in my life. I would wonder if things were not working out because I had messed something up, or if I had done wrong. What short sighted faith. 

It takes time, sometimes, for God’s promises to show up on time. It is in the waiting that we experience the promise the most. It is in that time that we get up close and personal to the promise, because often there is nothing else to hold on to! It is while we are waiting that God is preparing. He is preparing not only the promise, but us to receive the promise. He is not microwaving a snack, but preparing a roast. It takes time sometimes, but that time reminds you that once it comes, it will be better than expected.

Sometimes, while I am waiting on God to show up on time, I can allow negative thoughts to come in and steal my joy.  We have developed a little saying in our family to combat that. It kind of sounds like the Oklahoma Thunder’s chant, and goes like this, “God’s Up! Hope’s Up!” It simply means our hope is in God, and not in ourselves or what we want to happen. It means that no matter what, God is still on the throne, and so we give ourselves permission to have high hopes.

It is easy to fall into a cycle of worry, doubt, and anxiety. Thoughts like, “Something bad will happen,” or “Nothing good will happen,” are just lies from the enemy. Turn those lies upside down, and remind yourself of how many times God has come through for you, as well as how many times has He has saved you from yourself. Take heart! God’s Up! Hope’s Up!

Do Reading Plans Work?

// Bible Boredom //

The Bible can be a lot of things.  It can change your life, inspire you, confront you, and teach you. It can also be boring. Take Leviticus for example. There are some sections of that book that read like a long stretch of highway without civilization.  When reading portions of scripture like this I have to remind myself to focus, pay attention, and read slowly so that I can hear God speak to me. I am also reminded of the importance of a reading plan.

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// Bible Rambo //

In college I did a lot of crazy things. While for most people a statement like that would involve frat parties and alcohol, for me it often includes some zealous activity related to my faith. One time in particular, I decided to read the entire New Testament, and not to eat until I had fulfilled my commitment.  Like I said, crazy.  About a day into this challenge, a friend of mine decided to throw a huge party that would be catered and included just about everyone I knew. I had about 48 hours to complete my challenge before I would miss out on all the fun. As it came closer to the event it was obvious that I was not going to finish reading before the party began. I also didn’t want to break my Jephthah Vow. A compromise was made. I recruited friends to read a couple books of the New Testament out loud as I continue to read to myself in order to complete the challenge before the party. I had some good friends. And I completed the challenge, uh sort of. The lesson is be careful not to bite off more than you can chew.

// The Bible Habit //

It is not a sin to go a day without reading the Bible. Do not allow condemnation, fear, or guilt become motivating factors for reading your Bible. This kind of thinking leads to a performance trap that causes people to complete religious acts out of behavior modification instead of heart transformation.  A habit of regular Bible reading doesn’t necessarily make you more holy. It just means you are giving yourself more opportunity to understand the Bible and know God more.

 

Blogs I Can’t Wait to Read

Here are the blogs I look forward to reading the most right now:

Bob Hamp - http://bobhamp.com

Chad Veach - http://chadveach.tumblr.com

  • Twitter: @chad_veach
  • Why? I love his lists. I love his relevance. I love his realness.  His blog is like a spiritual ice cream cone.  An enjoyable read that is good for the soul. He is fun, encouraging and still finds a way to challenge you. The City Church.

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John Acuff - http://stuffchristianslike.net & http://acuff.me

  • Twitter: @jonacuff
  • Why? Funny. Short posts. Leadership. Entrepreneurship. Christianship??? A great live tweeter. Follow his tweets during major events in culture & Christianity. I discovered him while live tweeting during the Bible series. 

Peter Haas  -  http://www.peterhaas.org

  • Twitter: @PeterHaas1
  • Why? I like his book Pharisectomy, so I started reading his blog. Irreverent in a much needed way. Very funny and thoughtful posts on church, life, and leadership. Senior pastor of Substance, a progressive church that is very effective reaching millennials. Did I mention he is part of the Arc lead team?

Some other friendly bloggers that will stretch your thinking and have some recent content available now:

Jason Bailey, Jonathan Bowles, Kirby Bowles, Matt Marcantonio, Mike Servello, & Zac Gandara.

Have I missed someone?  Is there a great blog that you enjoy, and would like to tell me about?  If you have a blog, and I didn’t mention it then let me know! Share your thoughts and blog suggestions in the comments or message me on twitter.

Time to Change Your Filter

Looking at your life through the filter of disappointments can give you a “victim’s mentality.” This kind of thinking held the People of Israel back on their way to the Promised Land. One example of this can be found in the rebellion of Korah.

“Isn’t it enough that you brought us out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us here in this wilderness, and that you now treat us like your subjects” (Numbers 16:13 NLT)

It seems like they got the promise confused with the easy way out of their present struggle. The land flowing with milk and honey was before them, but they couldn’t take their eyes off of what was behind them. 

You may leave your environment, but sometimes it takes the distance between where you were and where you are going for your environment to leave you. The wilderness has a way of working the wrong things out and the right things in; if you don’t give up.

For many of us the Promised Land is not a physical destination, but a place of healing and freedom in our lives. It’s not geography that changes us, but rather the word of God renewing our minds.

Don’t give up in the wilderness when you are in between your Egypt and the Promised Land.

Fish Out of Church

Today I start a new blog about my personal experiences and growth after stepping away from working in ministry, and adjusting to the realities of my new life.  I hope you read it and let me know what you think.  Here is the site: http://fishoutofchurch.com.

I will also continue to blog here as well; sharing the stuff I normally do. I may post some thoughts from scripture or opinions on current events as well as updates on the fam.

Check out Fish Out of Church!

When God Hits the Pause Button

Not everything that slows you down is necessarily a bad thing. There are many reasons why God may hit the pause button on your plans.  Your response in these times shows where your trust really is.  When you are used to running it can be hard to walk, but you take in more of the journey when you do. 

Remember This:

A hospital stay can feel like a prison sentence, but without it, you may not  receive the healing you need to move forward.

Preparation can feel like punishment, but without it you may not be equipped to handle the battle ahead.

Isolation can feel like abandonment, but with out it you may not learn to rely on God above every other source.

Redirection can feel like rejection, but without it you may not find the fulfillment at end of the path that you could not see at the beginning of it.

Isaiah 43:2 NKJV

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.

You may feel like you are drowning in the waves that surround you, but you serve a God who walks on water.

You may feel like the fires of this trial will consume you, but you serve a God who rescues in the furnace.

Psalm 66:12 NKJV

“…We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.

You may wonder why God has brought you into a situation running over with frustration, but you serve a God who brings you out into rich fulfillment.

God may bring you out in an instant, as well as choose to be with you as you walk it out in a process.  Either way He is with you every step of the way.  He lead His people out of Egypt (instant), as well as through the wilderness (process), in order to bring them into the Promised Land (reward).  

The Spiritual Hunger Games of Social Media

Social media can be a kind of Hunger Games of thought for Christians.  Many underdeveloped and even some mature spiritual ideas enter into the online death match with hopes of catching fire, but who prevails depends on what Facebook feed you are reading. 

The spiritual debates that take place on social media (Blogs, twitter, and Facebook) reflect a conflict in Christian beliefs that existed long before the first app was downloaded on an iPhone.  The difference is that on social media, only one person gets to share their opinion at a time, and the virtual reality that separates us seems to also diminish the brotherly love that should also exist between us.  This is most evident when one person states their case or issue by  criticizing or attacking someone else who is also a believer but holds a different opinion or position on certain things.  

Many in the world know what Christians are against, more than what we are for.  When we begin to state the case for what we believe by bashing what another person in the body of Christ feels to be God’s revealed truth to them, we only perpetuate that misconception; not to mention alienate ourselves from other believers.  Any opinion that has to criticize others in order to have enough value to be shared should be kept to yourself. 

In a day when young people are disregarding church leaders and their message in record numbers, it is more important that we share our beliefs with them instead of “defending” our position against other Christians. We are the light of the world.  The light does not have to explain why the dark is so bad.  It just has to be the light, and watch the darkness flee while people are drawn to its benefits.

The spiritual discussion that takes place on social media is a great thing. I do not want to discourage anyone from tweeting their journey or posting their thoughts.  I do hope to encourage you to continue the conversation of faith without assassinating the character and opinions of others in order to elevate your own heart felt beliefs. So in conclusion, be known for what you are for rather than what you are against.  And may the odds (and retweets) be ever in your favor.