Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

We can live an incredible life of meaning, purpose and hope, or we can simply live. Max Lucado suggests the first option.

Lucado's newest book, "Outlive Your Life" reminds us that there are people, normal people, you and me kinda people, changing the world everyday. And make no mistake, our world needs it. People are hurting, people are dying, and it's time for the people who follow Jesus to step up to the plate.

I remember the day I got my first pair of glasses. I took them on-and-off and on-and-off, marveling at how clear everything was. There was a world around me that I didn't even realize because I simply couldn't see it. Lucado's book is like putting on a pair of glasses, revealing a world and a movement that you can't help but join once you've seen it.

Don't get me wrong, I know that world is out there, but it can be so easy to ignore as we wrap ourselves in the busyness of the day-to-day. Sometimes we get so trapped in the rat race that it takes a 2x4 moment to shake us loose. Lucado's book was a 2x4 moment for me.

It has been several years since I've picked up one of Lucado's books and I'm so glad I broke the trend with this one. Lucado tells stories from today side-by-side with the stories from the book of Acts, making an undeniable case for the work of God in our midst. And, as an author, Lucado deserves kudos for the unforced symmetry he portrays between Acts and today. As he points out, there is no conclusion to the book of Acts.

If you need a 2x4 or some preparation to write your chapter in the book of Acts, I encourage you to pick up a copy today.

(And if you're part of Ashley Ridge Church, you may want to start reading early as we'll be using the book in our worship and small groups in May 2011).

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher as part of the Booksneeze program for bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Starbucks May Take Away the "Christian Bar Scene"

So, apparently Starbucks is going to start serving beer and wine. For the record, I have no problem with this. But it does make me wonder what will happen to the hip Christian social scene. Let me explain.

In a world that is increasingly digital and detached, there are few remaining places where people go to gather and interact with other human beings, you know, a place "where everybody knows your name." Remaining places include hair salons/barber shops, bars and, in recent years, coffee shops.

It seems that with the emergence of coffee shops, Christians latched on to their drug-of-choice, i.e. caffeine. After all, the Bible talks several times about getting drunk, but never once does Paul mention the 3x a day venti latte/espresso/mocha/macchiato trend. And so, for the Christian population, coffee shops have all the advantage of meeting the culture at a popular hub without the stigma of a bar. It's trendy, it's hip, it's church meeting culture in the way Martin Luther did in the 16th century.

Before I go any further, a few disclaimers: I often work in a coffee shop. I even host a gathering called Java with Jenn every Wednesday morning in a coffee shop. I know every barista in my local coffee shop and they know me. I like it. I also make the occasional visit to bars, typically when our church's worship leader is providing the music and half of my congregation is in attendance.

So what happens when coffee shops start serving beer and wine? Do we still hold Bible studies in coffee shops? Do we still make coffee shops our meeting place for casual and official conversations?

I hope so.

Not because it's trendy. Not because it's edgy. Not because it's hip. But because Jesus told us to make disciples of all people, and that requires going to where people are. I love coffee shops. I love the fact that there is a group of guys in their 40s, 50s and 60s that I share friendly banter with in the morning, a retired school teacher who brings in her books and talks with me about her love of theater and a 22-year old barista named Travis who is dreaming big about going to New York someday to open a restaurant.

So, Starbucks, do your thing. I hope the church can continue to take some hints about creating environments that encourage conversation and human interaction, environments where life is being shared. (and no, I'm not suggesting churches start serving beer and wine before or after worship)

What do y'all think?
"God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power,
love and self-discipline." ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

And yet, how often do we live timid lives? How often do we spend time agonizing and planning over how to please people and keep the waters tame? We weren't meant to hide in our shells, we were meant to live in the sun.

Power, love, self-discipline...it's an interesting list. Faith, hope and love seem to have a more obvious connection. I have some thoughts, but today I would rather hear yours.

What do you think of when you hear that we've been given a spirit of power, love and self-discipline? What would your day look like if you grabbed hold of that spirit?

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Poem

My toddler will not stay in bed. The same toddler who I sat up with during the night because he had a fever and was shaking with chills. The same toddler who threw up several times last night. Yes, that toddler is suddenly feeling better and will not stay in bed.

It's nap time. That precious time on a day like today when I'm home at work with a sick kid and need to get some work done. The hour and a half I'm supposed to have to catch my breath. It's nap time and my toddler will not stay in bed.

I remember the days when a crib did the trick. The glorious days before the climbing began. The days when my toddler would talk for 30 minutes before falling asleep, but eventually fall asleep he would, snuggled secure, contained in his crib. But now the high front wall is no more, replaced by a guardrail meant to catch a sleeping child from rolling out, but an easy escape for my toddler who will not stay in bed.

Someday I know my toddler will be a teenager and I will fight to get him out of the bed. But today, it would be so nice if my toddler would stay in his bed.

(they say art is supposed to be an outlet, a release...I don't know if I feel better yet, I think it may depend on whether my toddler finally stays in bed.)

After the Message

So, this week I'm breaking form and I'm going to tell you that if you would like yesterday's sermon notes, you're just going to have to listen to the podcast. God did something incredible in our worship yesterday and I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with my notes...

Check it out on iTunes. It's called Consequences - Part Three and it should be up very soon.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Run or To Pray

Okay, so have you noticed how people like to tweet and facebook about exercise when it's going well? Nobody posts an update that says "It's been 82 days since my heart rate rose above 70 bpm." However, if they've been to the gym two days in a row, the world knows about it.

Don't get me wrong, I feel at liberty to write about this because I'm guilty of committing this very act. I'm getting ready for a half marathon in December and I talk about it a lot, in part to keep me motivated and in part to shame myself into doing it if necessary - pride is a great motivator. You better believe that if/when I survive my 5-mile run on Saturday morning I will tweet about it and casually slip it into conversations for the rest of the weekend. That's how I roll.

Naturally, as I'm getting into the thick of this training, my Bible reading today took me back to a verse that I've highlighted, underlined and circled at various points over the years: I Timothy 4:8 "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

That's what we call in the industry "a good one."

Why aren't we more motivated to get spiritually fit than physically fit? Why don't we make sure we get our prayer time in before we get our work-out in? I would love to see someone's facebook page say something like "got up a 1/2 hour early five days in a row for more time with God," or "dominated the book of Ezekiel this morning."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holy Discontent

What's that thing that makes your gut twist? What do you lay awake at night thinking about? What's the thing that makes you so mad or sad (or smad for all you Gilmore Girls out there) that you have to act?

There's a difference between discontent and holy discontent. You might be discontent with the traffic situation on your way to work, but your discontent becomes a holy discontent when it's something you know God is desperate to change as well. Not that God doesn't care about your morning commute, but you know what I mean.

My holy discontent is cultural Christianity. It's all the people out there who don't know or haven't heard or don't understand that church isn't something you do it's something you are. I'm not mad at the people, I'm mad at the church for creating this culture. I'm sad that we haven't found a way to help people understand that Jesus didn't die for a building or an organ or a drum set - Jesus died for you and me. He died so we could live - live differently, live strong (to steal from Lance Armstrong), live courageously as people take on Jesus' work of redeeming a broken world.

I believe God gave me this holy discontent. I also believe that holy discontent is a big reason God called me to be a church planter - to take away all the obvious and go back to basics of what it means to ignite passion for Jesus Christ that changes our whole lives and our whole weeks.

My sister Laura has a holy discontent for the huge numbers of women with breast cancer. As a result, she's heading to NYC this weekend to walk 39.4 miles in two days with her team, Paper Girls Wear Pink, as part of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

What about you? What's your holy discontent? Is it starving children? Is it human trafficking? Is it alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual addiction? Is it elderly who are abandoned or uncared for? Is it child abuse or domestic abuse? Is it cancer research or Alzheimer's research?

What's your holy discontent? What is God calling you to do with it? How can we as a community come alongside you and be part of it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

A note to my readers: Thank you for being patient with my recent lack of posts. I promise this blog has not been reduced to simply the sermon notes. That said, here are this week's sermon notes, but check back for more content through the week. Thanks for reading!

After the Message


And yet we…

And still God…

Last WeekNineveh knew what they were supposed to do and chose to blatantly disobey and rebel against God…and they were destroyed

This Week – Different kind of disobedience and its consequences, the disobedience of standing by and doing nothing when someone is in need

What Would You Do?all these scenarios when people see awful things happening and we get awkward and find ways to pretend it’s not happening versus getting involved

We say things like – “it’s not my place” “I didn’t want to get hurt” “I didn’t want my

kids to get hurt”


shortest book in OT (17 verses)

written in the form of a dirge of doom

Edomites – descendants of Esau

vv. 10-15, Obadiah explains why Edom will be destroyed, namely blatant arrogance toward God and persecution of God’s children

- Obadiah said God would destroy Edom as punishment for standing by when Babylon invaded Judah

o A21 campaign – why didn’t you come sooner?

- Edom located in the mountains – thought they were invincible

vv. 17-21 – God will fight for His children and those who stand against or stand by will be destroyed

Who are God’s children? We are all God's children - the vulnerable, the oppressed,

the hungry, the abused

The redeemed are called to restore - we can no longer stand by while our brothers and sisters get hurt, it's time to get involved.

For more information on the A21 Campaign, check out theA21Campaign.org. Our senior high students will be fasting on the 21st to bring awareness to human trafficking - would you like to get involved?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

After the Message
Consequences, Part One


If you ignore your laundry piling up and up and up, you will run out of clothing to wear.

If you eat junk consistently, then you’re going to gain weight and have health issues.

If you spend more than you make, then you will end up in debt.

If you betray someone you love – a friend, a family member, your spouse – then you will lose trust.

And yet we…Do it anyway

(We know if we stay up late, we’ll be tired in the morning – but just this one last show on tv, a few more chapters in my book, a little more time on facebook, hey what about these other internet sites…)

Why? When we’re young we think we’re invincible (that bad stuff won’t happen to me, no one else will be affected, I have plenty of time to turn things around…). We get older and we figure we can manage things (I can take care of it, I’m in control…). Then we get really old and we think, who cares, what’s it going to hurt now.

Bottom line is we do it anyway because it feels good, it looks good, it sounds good and, after all, it’s my life anyway.


- a minor prophet (minor as opposed to major b/c of population addressing and size of the book)

- Remnants of the Jonah story re-emerge - Jonah is the if…then… - goes to Nineveh, tells them to repent or get destroyed, so they repent

- 100 years later, Assyria is the world power, Nineveh is the capital – Judah is a vassal state

- Nineveh had heard the if..then, but yet they chose anyway to live in disobedience and rebellion to God

- What happens? Chapter 1:1-8, God tells Nineveh they’re going down, which they do (about 50 years after Nahum’s prophecy, Nineveh is destroyed, shortly after Assyria falls to Babylon)

Consequences are real. Not just an OT thing.

And still God…

Romans 5:8 - God proves His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It's time to stop running from God and instead run toward God.