Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coffee Talk

"I was in the military, attending a church every Sunday, pretty religious if you ask me. It was time for my second child to be baptized and the godparents and in-laws were coming in on Friday night. I went down to the church and asked the pastor if we could do the baptism on Saturday. He explained that the baptism had to happen during a weekend service. I explained that my family was only going to be here Saturday. He said no. I told him I had invested $6k in the church the year before and not to spend it this year because it wouldn't be there. Where the hell does the Bible say you have to baptize in front of X number of people? I never went back."

This was the conversation I overheard five minutes ago as I sat drinking my tall skinny pumpkin spice latte. It was followed by similar stories from the others sitting in the circle. I've heard these stories countless times before. I've read about these stories in books I read about the de-churched. But, I still get heartbroken and angry every time it happens.

Make no mistake, I overheard this conversation from the opposite side of the coffee shop, but it was intended for my hearing. I frequent the coffee shop as does this group. We say hello, we've exchanged names, we've shared friendly banter when we end up in each other's seats. They know who I am and what I do, and today they wanted me to hear what they think about the church.

I hope this is the first step closer to them being open to me joining the conversation. It's taken a year to get this far.

I need some feedback. What do you think when you hear this kind of conversation? Have you had a similar experience personally or with a friend or co-worker who still won't accept your invitation to worship?

Talk to me please.

Monday, September 27, 2010

After the Message (Sermon Notes)

Who’s Your Team? Part 4


I like to win – you could say I’m a little bit competitive

Doesn’t matter what the event/activity – board games, brushing teeth

So competitive, I’ll compete at being bad at something – someone says to me “I can’t draw,” my response is “Oh, you want to see someone who can’t draw? I promise I’m much worse than you.”

Where are you winning in your life right now and where are you losing?

Are you winning the fight for your marriage? Your kids? Your neighbors? Are you winning with your money (to steal a Dave Ramsey line)?

Life can feel so often like an uphill battle – the moments we feel as though we’re winning are few and far between

But here’s the good news…

Romans 8:31-39

- Lead-up – God is working things out, despite present hardship or suffering, God is at work redeeming all of creation

- V. 35 – what’s going to separate us from a God who wants to be with us – anger, pride, aggression, bad decisions, pain, anxiety??? None of that

- V. 36 – bad stuff happens, doesn’t change the answer in v. 37


- the only way we win is with Jesus who loved us more than we will ever understand

- with Jesus, we win and we win big – more than conquerors

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Priority Check

I'm reading the book "Mad Church Disease" by Anne Jackson and in the chapter I was reading yesterday morning she was talking about the two greatest commandments (i.e. love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves) and she pointed out that it doesn't say to love our neighbors with all our strength, it tells us to love God with ALL our strength - only if we do that are we able to love our neighbors at all. She also went on to say that a lot of us are doing a pretty lousy job of loving ourselves, which means we're setting a really low standard for loving our neighbors. (For more stuff from Anne Jackson, check out her new book "Permission to Speak Freely" or her blog.)

I needed to hear that. It's so easy to get caught up trying to do everything for everyone and forget to first love God with ALL our strength. It's only when we expend all our energy on God that we have energy to give to anyone else, including ourselves.

I'm going through an overwhelming season of life and I'm thankful for the perseverance God is teaching me (even though I'm not always the best student). But even though overwhelming seasons are part of life, we often bring them on ourselves when we think we're too busy to make time, our best time, for God. We start running on an empty spiritual tank and it doesn't get us very far.

So, here's today's gut check - what are the things currently getting the benefit of ALL your strength and where is God?

Monday, September 20, 2010

After the Message (i.e. Sermon notes)

Who’s Your Team?, Part 3

Maximizing Your Investment

College Football Tickets - $150

Parking - $20

Gas to and from game - $60

Tailgating - $45

Hotel room - $150

Game Day Apparel - $40

Big Foam Finger - $5

Spending Saturday with 85,000 of your closest friends – priceless

A few caveats:

Money talk is always a little uncomfortable b/c it’s personal

Too often the church has done a poor job of talking about money b/c we only talk about the 10% we want you to give to the church and we don’t talk about the 100% God has entrusted us with and biblical financial management of that money

To make it worse, we didn’t learn it in home economics either – we learned to sew a pillow and make no-bake cookies, but skipped the “home economy” part

So, most of what we’ve learned has come from the credit card companies who spend millions and millions every year talking us into spending more than we have

This message - Not talking about what we give to God, but what we do with what God gives to us.

Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30

- Jesus has just finished telling a story about the kingdom of God, which he ends by telling his disciples to “stay alert,” because no one knows when he is coming back

- Notice first off that the master entrusted his money with his servants, the money never belonged to them

- A talent was a large unit of money, one talent worth about 20 years of work from your average person

- They didn’t all start with the same amount of money – fair? No. reality? Yes.

- If this were a modern parable, there would have been a fourth guy who spent all of his talents, borrowed more from someone else and when the master came back, he was actually at -6

What we do with our money has eternal significance - do we sit on the incredible gifts God entrusts to us or do we use them for His glory?

- 70% of Americans haven’t kept what God has given them – we blow it and then we finance 30% more, as a result, we’re broke

- Average American family spends between $500-$1500/month on debt payment, excluding our house payment

- Average family can get debt free in 18-36 months

Challenge/Place to Start: Take out a blank piece of paper and open your bank account on the computer – make a list of all the things you spend money on and then rank those things in order of where you spend the most – talk about it with your family, have an honest conversation including your teenagers about how you spend money

If you are part of Ashley Ridge Church, sign-up for a small group today. In the coming months, our small groups will all have opportunities to go through a 6-week study called "I Was Broke. Now I'm Not" by Joe Sangl that will provide practical steps to becoming debt-free and investing wisely.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Someone's Always Watching

It's true, you know. I was making some updates to our church website this afternoon and I happened to click on the stats button. The first graph that appeared showed how many unique visitors come to our site each day, and I was surprised at what I saw. It's easy to think no one is looking, no one is watching, but it can be mind-blowing when you see the data. The same is true with this whole blogging thing sometimes - often, like now, I'm sitting by myself in an almost empty coffee shop, tapping away at my computer, not even thinking about the fact that others will actually read what I write. And then someone I barely know makes a passing comment about something I said on my blog and I think, "wow, did I really put that out there for strangers to read?"

Sometimes we start believing that it doesn't really matter what we do, what we say, how we act, how we react, etc., etc. But it does, someone is always watching.

It might be your kids... We think they're so caught up in their own world that they don't notice the little things, but they do. My 19-month old is in the parrot stage where he repeats everything he hears - it is a constant, and sometimes not so flattering, reminder that someone is not only watching but listening. I read in a book recently, "Our personal relationship with God and with our spouse make a bigger difference than we think in our kid's lives." Our kids are watching, what are we teaching them when we don't think they're paying attention?

It might be your parents... Here's an example: when I'm on facebook, I'm primarily interacting with people my age and younger. Sometimes I'm not thinking and I put silly things on my status, and then my mom calls and asks me about something going on in my life that I know I didn't tell her about - that's right, she's on facebook too. (I met a youth pastor recently who said one of his favorite Sunday morning activities with his students is to throw facebook up on the big screen and then pick random profiles to open for everyone to look at - yikes!)

It might be the person you ate lunch with who looked to see how big of a tip you left... I know we throw this fact out there all the time, but it's true that you can talk to all kinds of restaurant waiters and waitresses and they'll tell you they hate working on Sundays b/c the after-church crowd are some of the worst tippers of the week.

People are watching. What are they learning from your life?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Love Wednesdays

Wednesdays are my people days. Wednesdays are my days to ignore my computer through the morning and sit with people face-to-face. I need Wednesdays to remind me sometimes why I love what I do and what it is such a privilege to do what I do.

When is your Wednesday and what does it look like?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gettin' My Reads On

Stressed? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Self-consumed?

I recommend a date with a good book. There's nothing like a good book to transport you out of your current situation, lift your eyes out of the dense forest and be re-inspired by a greater narrative (gee, I kinda sound like Donald Miller :).

And so, if you're looking for a recommendation, here are a few from my most recent reads and even one that's coming up next on my list:

1. Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel - there are 10 chapters in this book, and I promise you'll find yourself in at least one if not all of them along with some concrete steps forward.

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - excellent book about black maids and the white ladies they worked for in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960s. Of all the books I've read dealing with segregation and the civil rights movement, this one surpasses them all. It's funny, honest and an opportunity to see life through entirely different eyes. This is definitely a good one if you need a little perspective.

3. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett - releases on September 28th and I'm so excited! Follett doesn't write stories, he writes epics. This one won't be for the faint of heart at almost 1,o00 pages and that only the first installment of a trilogy, but based on previous experience, I think it will be worth it.

Go ahead and roll your eyes now, but I won't write a post like this and miss the opportunity to point out that the best book to be reading at all times is the Bible. Stressed? Read your Bible and be reminded of God's faithfulness and provision. Anxious? Read your Bible and be reminded to cast your cares on the One who cares for you. Overwhelmed? Read your Bible and don't miss the part about walking through fire and not being consumed. Self-consumed? Read your Bible and remember life isn't about you - it's about living everyday for Jesus, the One who gave His life for you.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

After the Message

So easy to zero in on the things that excite us, the things that get our passion running high –

Can you just imagine if we were as excited about Jesus as we are about football?

Thousands of people crowded into stadiums every weekend, faces painted, signs made – so eager to get in that they show up early and cook out in the parking lot, making friends with the people parked next to them b/c even if they’ve never met, they have this one, amazing thing in common.

Not just football…basketball, rock concerts, etc.

Are we that excited about Jesus, or do we come here when we don’t have anything better to do?

Revelation 3:14-22, Church in Laodicea:

Water source was about 6 miles out of town, so when it came through the pipes into their town, it was tepid

Hence, the metaphor resonated with them that they were not to be lukewarm, better to be cold than lukewarm. Jesus wants us to be hot, passionate, on fire.

Jesus doesn’t need lukewarm, he needs boiling hot, passionate, on-fire people who are ready to live a radical, sold-out life to him

The issue is not feeling guilty about loving college football or basketball, or playing golf or doing any of the things we love – it’s about what has captured your heart, or better said, it’s about WHO has captured your heart.

Where are you going to place your passion? What are you going to get so excited about that you’re willing to look foolish for the sake of it?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Can You Feel It?

There's something special in the air, a shift, an excitement, a buzz - that's right, today is the start of the college football season. If you read any of the other blogs listed on my blogroll or if you've tuned into any kind of media today, you've heard others already speak eloquently about what this day means and what it represents.

I'll admit it - I share the sickness. This morning over a bowl of cereal I explained to my 18-month old how he and I would be spending Saturday morning watching College GameDay to help him learn the players and gear up for the day ahead. My husband has been working with Jake for weeks, teaching him to say "War Eagle" and "Touchdown!"

I've always loved football and I grew up in Steeler country where pride and passion run high, but I married into the college football obsession that is only amplified by living in SEC country where words like "diehard" don't begin to describe the intensity with which people follow and support their teams.

I was a quick study and today I converse easily on topics like the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry and the Iron Bowl. I have a cake pan in the shape of a football field and plenty of food coloring to make orange and navy icing. Heck, I even think my favorite Auburn shirt will fit again this year now that all of the pregnancy weight is gone :)

So, let the games begin - pull out your flags, show your colors and may the best teams win!

...and when the games are over on Saturday, don't miss worship on Sunday morning (before the NFL games begin). Throughout September our worship series "Who's Your Team?" will resonate in the hearts of football fans everywhere. And make plans now to be with us for the Ashley Ridge tailgate on September 26th.