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I Refuse

I read a Rick Warren quote a couple weeks ago that I haven’t been able to escape ever since.

The last thing many believers need to go to is another Bible study. They already know far more than they’re putting into practice.

Dang.

Reading that really challenged me. Its often easy for me to think that learning more about what Jesus said gets me off the hook for having to actually walk out and do what Jesus said do and be who Jesus said to be.  Personally, I grew up in a church environment that knew all about “church” and all kinds of doctrine and could quote you half the Bible, but never really did anything with it but try hard to be “holy” and come back to church.

I’m currently reading John Ortberg‘s book The Me I Want To Be and he made a statement in it that really challenged me.

Often, people in the Gospels who got in the most trouble with Jesus were the ones thought they were working hardest on their spiritual life. They were trying so hard to be good that they could not stop thinking about how hard they were trying, and that got in the way of their loving other people.

That Jesus just spent time with the oppressed, dejected and broken isn’t what set Him apart. It was that He LOVED them. To be honest, anyone can serve a meal to a homeless person. You don’t have to believe in Jesus to serve the oppressed. But as followers of Christ, what should make us different than everyone else doing what we’re doing is who we are and how that filters how and why we do what we do.

Last night at Stretch, we talked about how as much as we love how the group has grown and we’ve been able to mobilize a lot of people to service and action, ultimately we’re doing a disservice if we only get people to serve a meal to a homeless person but don’t challenge them to LOVE that homeless person, look them in the eye, remember their name and dignify their humanity the way Jesus would have.

We’re about to dig into David Platt’s book “Radical” together and challenge each other to go deeper into community and service, and allow ourselves to be uncomfortable to a degree that we begin to understand what it means to live like Jesus tells us to.

Josh Wilson has a great new song called “I Refuse”. In this video, he talks about how he was praying for the people affected by the Nashville flood earlier this year, and praying for people to step up and come help. But then he wondered if it was possible for him to be hiding behind his prayer and using it as a defense and a cop-out to actually doing something himself.  I was really moved by that and thought it was a perfect compliment to how all this fits together. We showed the video at Stretch last night and begin to challenge people with the awareness of the great needs that exist all around them and ask the hard question…

Will you refuse to do nothing?


 

All The Poor & Powerless

I just got hipped to Sons & Daughters by my boy Brewster. Their song “All The Poor & Powerless” is stunning. Word has it their performance of “All The Poor & Powerless” was one of the many highlights of last week’s Story 2010 Conference in Chicago, hosted by visionary Ben Arment.

Sons & Daughters - All The Poor & Powerless
All the poor and powerless, and all the lost and lonely
And all the theives will come confess, and know that You are holy
And all the hearts that are content, and all that feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left, will know that You are holy

Here’s a dope video with a different, more stripped-down version of the song, sans the rhythm track and choir. Amazing.

You can download “All The Poor & Powerless” for free here, and follow Sons & Daughters on Twitter here.

 

My Story: The Next Chapter

I’ve been waiting to be able to share this news on the latest development in my life, and I’m so excited that I’m now able to!

I have accepted a position on staff at Cross Point Church here in Nashville and will be joining the Cross Point Family Ministries team in the role of FX Director.

FX is a Family Experience created to help connect kids and their parents with God’s Big Ideas together. Between our Live Experience once a month and our weekly Home Experience Tools, our passion is to provide the environments we all need to discover the Word of God as a family, together.

There are incredible teams of singers, musicians, actors, dancers, leaders, techs and more who work tirelessly throughout each month to make the FX Live Family Experience happen 5 times on 4 Cross Point campuses all in one morning once a month. That’s like, amazing!  I can’t wait to start digging in, dreaming and creating with these folks.  My first day on the job is this Sunday, September 12, which is also this month’s FX Live day! It’s going to be a great day!

I’m excited about this for many reasons. I’m excited to serve the families of Cross Point and be a conduit for God’s heart for strengthening and building the family. In my role as FX Director, I’ll be plugging in across the board, working closely with the Family Ministries leadership team and the FX teams at all 4 Cross Point campuses on production, content, leadership, programming, organizational, media, creative and other levels. So on one hand, it also feels amazing to once again have the opportunity to dive into something that engages so many different areas of my passions, experience and skill sets, many of which I thought I may have had to pack away and never tap into again. I also love that I’m going to get to do this and still co-lead and invest into the amazing STRETCH community group that is such a big part of my life and significant part of my story (more on that soon).

But perhaps the main reason I’m so excited and humbled by this opportunity may have less to do with the actual job than with what it actually represents for me, and that is not just resolution, but redemption.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you’re probably familiar with my story. This has been a year of gutting and rebuilding unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and there were a lot of painful times that I didn’t understand.  To be honest, I still don’t understand it all, but I’ll tell you what I do know: I am not the same person I was a year ago.

The more I have resigned my right to control, abandoned my entitled pursuit of the answers and chosen to surrender to the story God was writing with my life, my heart has changed.

I am grateful for every single broken moment over these past several months when I have felt like a failure… every single frustrated moment that I struggled to make sense of… every single breathless, uncertain moment when I had run out of words to say.

Those moments taught me what was in my heart.
Those moments taught me how to pry my fingers from around what I thought I deserved.
Those moments taught me how to live open handed.
Those moments taught me the value of living with the questions.
Those moments taught me that God was engaged in a passionate pursuit of my heart.

In every single one of those moments, I had a choice: to believe that my current situation was my destination or to believe that the real value of each moment was more about who I was becoming than where I was going.  It wasn’t ever without a struggle, but the more I chose the latter, the more my heart was able to exhale, release its grip on what I thought I had to have and who I thought I had to be, and the more perspective I had on what I was walking through.

God has used Cross Point and the community I’ve found there to heal my heart in so many ways.  In the relatively short time I’ve been at Cross Point I’ve had the opportunity to plug in and engage in what God is doing there on several levels and it has changed my life. Those of you who have walked closely with me over the last several months may understand this better than others, but after many months of waiting, hoping and wondering what was next, for THIS to be what was waiting for me, and to have the opportunity to invest with the Cross Point team in this way, is an incredibly redemptive chapter in my ever-evolving story in more ways than I can explain right now.

I have much more to write and share about all this, but for now I just want to say…

God is faithful…

and Let’s do this!


 

Waiting Well

Someone recently asked me, “what are you waiting for?”

My response: “that’s a loaded question.”

After I thought about it for a few seconds, I answered that I was waiting on “what’s next”, then admitted I just gave a very loaded answer in response to a very loaded question.

The truth is though, we’re all waiting on something. A birthday, finding our spouse, a holiday, graduation, first day of a new job, retirement, a career change, being in a relationship, a move, etc.

Some of you are waiting on something and you know when it’s coming. The baby is due November 18.  You’ll make your last student loan payment March 5, 2011. You’re leaving for the vacation you’re saved up for on October 5.  Some of you know. But some of you don’t. Some of you are waiting on something that there is no date attached to. Finding your spouse? Yeah, not so much. The tests finally coming back negative? Sure wish you knew. The day when your heart stops hurting from unexpected loss? Where do you put THAT on the calendar?

As for me, yes, I am waiting on “what’s next.” But while paydays, holidays and friend’s weddings are marked on my calendar, “what’s next” is nowhere to be found.

Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. – Romans 8:24-25

I believe there is something very healthy about waiting and wrestling with an unrealized hope… something that is consistently just beyond our reach… something that keeps wonder alive in our heart… something that interjects intrigue into the most mundane of moments. While there is definitely a powerful life element to waiting without knowing, the truth is it can often be frustrating.

We spend so much time asking God “why”… “why don’t I have it”, “why hasn’t this changed”,”why am I still here”, “why don’t you fix it???”

Walking by faith and living with the questions is completely counter-intuitive to a culture that has every other answer they could ever want just one Google search away… every answer but THIS one… the one that won’t let you sleep at night.

I’ve come to believe that a significant part of prying the grip of frustration from around a heart in wait is learning to ask a different question.  If we could only begin to shift the focus from asking “why” of God to asking “how” of our own heart, we could begin to understand and unlock the power of waiting well.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking “why”. I just think it is often a fruitless, cyclical pursuit of answers that are not always ours for the having and doesn’t change the origin of the frustration. On the other hand, learning to square off with our own heart and continually evaluate “how” we are waiting could very well be a catalyst to heart change and deliverance from our own entitlement to know “why”.

Asking “why” probably won’t change the situation, but asking “how” will likely change ME.

A big part of waiting well is understanding the redemptive nature and character of God and realizing that He never wastes a season of your life. There is value and perspective to be extracted and juiced from every moment, if we will commit to the pursuit of it. Too often, we pass up the opportunity to find the life to be had in each moment and season we’re given and settle for worry, fear and complaining.

How do you wait?

Do you hope or complain?
Do you engage or isolate?
Are you thankful or bitter?
Is your heart expectant or jaded?
Does your heart trust or is it suspicious?

I often wish I were better at waiting well.  Some days I’ve got a better grip on it than others, but in my “waiting for what’s next” I don’t think I’ve waited too well this past week. Yet I continue to hold the feet of my heart to the flames and move toward, knowing that how I wait is more important than why I am waiting.

What are you waiting for? Do you wait well?


 

Israel Houghton “Love God. Love People.” Giveaway Winners

Thanks everybody who participated in the Israel Houghton “Love God. Love People.” CD Giveaway. You guys rock!  I love being able to do these giveaways and get great stuff into people’s hands!

Congratulations to the following 5 people, each of whom will receive a copy of Israel Houghton’s “Love God. Love People.” CD BEFORE IT HITS STORES AUGUST 31, courtesy of Integrity Music.

@jumpingtandem
@adamandkaren
@dcov6
@jackschull
@jessiwhitt

If you were one of the winners this time, please send me your mailing address ASAP, click here to email me or click here to send me a Twitter DM.

If you didn’t win a copy of “Love God. Love People.” you should definitely pick up a copy when it releases in stores and online next Tuesday, August 31!

I’ve got some more cool giveaways coming up, so stay tuned!

 
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