Archives For January 2008

Responding to God

January 28, 2008 — 1 Comment

I have struggled for a long time about the best way to end a worship service. There is something that just seems forced and fake with the traditional alter call. Begging and pleading for someone to come forward while everyone else sings 10 verses of Just As I Am just doesn’t seem like the best way to reach people. You do need to remember that alter calls weren’t done in church until the 1800′s, so there is not a strong historical basis for doing them in church. On the other hand, I’m afraid that sharing a 10 second Gospel message and asking everyone to raise their hands will lead a number of people to think they are saved when they truly don’t understand the Gospel. I feel the best way is to really sit down and talk with someone one on one to answer their questions and make sure they understand. But how do you get them to do that? I have tried many different ways to end the service and to quote a famous song, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” I do want to give people a chance to respond to what they have heard and a chance to take the next step.

There is one church that I have visited that I think understands this problem. They have provided their people an opportunity to respond in many different ways. Seacoast church has a very interesting “hands-on” way to end their service. They provide multiple stations where people can respond. You can read more about it here.

  • They have a wooden cross where people can write out something they are struggling with and nail it on the cross as a symbolic way of handing it over to God.
  • They have communion stations setup throughout the sanctuary where you can choose to take communion each week.
  • They have elders available to meet and pray with people about salvation and healing
  • They have a prayer table where you can go and light a votive candle and intercede on the behalf of someone.
  • They also have boxes setup around the sanctuary for tithes and offerings. They want people to worship through their giving and they make this process part of the response time.

I think this is a neat concept, and it’s one that I can’t get off my mind. I think the response time should involve more people than just those who are making a first time decision. How would something like this work at Cornerstone? What could we add or subtract to make this more effective for the people here? Share your thoughts with me on this.

I’m In

January 28, 2008 — Leave a comment


I’m in. Registration opened today so we ordered two tickets for Jenni and me. This will be a quick trip. We might even plan a day or two in DC for the kids. This is one that I’m looking forward to.

Reminiscing

January 24, 2008 — 1 Comment

Last night, Jennifer and I had the chance to escape down to Winston-Salem for the evening. The kids went to church with Jennifer’s mom & dad, and I didn’t have any meetings for once. We went to Hanes Mall and did some shopping and then went out to eat. You know you’re in a small town when you drive over an hour to go on a date. I did get a cool shirt from Buckle and a great commentary set at Lifeway. I guess that is a pretty big contrast. You can tell that I am trying to stay young. Jennifer and I went to Village Tavern to eat. The food was great, but the time alone with my wife was even better. I can’t believe that after 12 years of marriage that I am still madly in love with my wife.

Dinner brought back some old memories. We lived in Winston from ’95 to ’96 and Village Tavern was one of our favorite places for a romantic date. We were fresh out of college and ready to conquer the world. It’s amazing how time has flown. I was working as a crash test engineer for an aerospace company and Jennifer was teaching pre-K at a Christian school. We were members of Calvary Baptist Church and we were definite church consumers. Like sponges, we soaked in everything we could for the entire year we lived there. We got to hear great expository preaching from Dr. Mark Corts and great teaching from Dr. Gary Chapman every week.

But there comes a time when you have to start squeezing that sponge, and pouring out what you have learned. When God opened up an opportunity for us to move back to our hometown of Galax, we felt that we had no other choice. God was definitely leading us here. And he squeezed us hard, immediately opening up opportunities to serve as youth leaders. But it has been worth it every step of the way. And that is why we as Christian leaders must challenge our people to move from consuming to contributing. It’s alright to consume for a while, but you will never be truly happy or content until you start serving and pouring your life out for others. You get to a point where you can’t soak anything else in until you start squeezing some of the excess out. Your Christian journey is that continual process of soaking in and squeezing out.

How Not to Be A Fool

January 22, 2008 — Leave a comment

We started a new series last week in youth about making wise choices from the book of Proverbs. Life is full of small decisions that lead to big consequences. Nobody decides to wake up one day and become an alcoholic. Nobody decides to wake up one day and commit a crime. The big bad choices in life don’t happen overnight. They happen because we choose, day by day, to make unwise decisions.

I talked in church Sunday morning about asking the right question. Too many times, we as Christians ask “CAN we ___________?” Just fill in the blank. Why can’t I go where I want to go and why can’t I do what I want to do? We focus on what we can do and not what we should do. The object in life is not how close we can get to sin, but how close we can stay to Christ. The correct question we should be asking in life is “Is it Holy?”

Don’t neglect the small choices in life that lead you away from Christ. You may think that the consequences are small, that your sin won’t affect anyone else, but please don’t underestimate the consequences of continued sin.

Ecto

January 21, 2008 — Leave a comment

This is a test post from a program called Ecto. It’s a neat blogging editor that lets you have a little more control over your posts. The web-interface for blogger is quick and easy, but it’s not the greatest when you went to start several draft posts and go back later to edit them. I’ll try this out for a while to see if it works as advertised. It seems pretty slick.

From their website

With ecto you can write and manage entries for your weblog(s). The advantage over using your weblog’s control panel is that you can compose entries offline and use the extra features ecto offers, such as spellcheck, creating links, attachments, and much more. ecto is designed to make blogging much more easier and yet give the users as much power as possible to manage their weblogs.

Not Afraid to Pray

January 19, 2008 — Leave a comment

We dodged the snowstorm today, which is weird because so many places south of us got snow and ice. It is cold, but it’s January, so no complaining. I just got back from a good church Saturday night meeting. We use these meetings to keep our core group informed about what is going on behind the scenes. But the main purpose first and foremost is prayer. I want Cornerstone to be a church that is not afraid to pray. I think it is healthy for a church to be able to come together to pray and share, even when there are some concerns. I’m confident that God will continue to lead us and guide us as we make decisions on where to meet. What can we pray for:

Wisdom
Guidance
Peace

Wisdom to make the right decision, guidance through all the choices, and peace about the decision the church makes. I don’t want to look back 10 years from now and wonder “what if?” I think we are at a critical time in the life of our church. Should we be content with just meeting on Sunday morning at our current location, or do we really reach out and start ministering to our community. It’s risky and it’s dangerous, but I’m not living life to make the safe choice. I want to have a facility on our church land in the future, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the opportunities that God has opened for us now. Let’s not be afraid to pray.

Slightly Overwhelmed

January 19, 2008 — Leave a comment

The past few weeks have been incredibly busy for me. Sermon preparation has taken much of my time since I am starting a new series this week. Then all the meetings, planning sessions, and phone calls. It has been slightly overwhelming. But tonight, I am just turning it all over to Jesus. I know I can’t do anything on my own. There is so much more that I feel like I need to do, but I know that God wants me to focus on what He is calling me to do.

There will always be more to do

  • There will always be another meeting that needs to be planned
  • There will always be another visit that needs to be done
  • There will always be more sermon planning that has to be done (Sunday comes every week)
  • There will always be another phone call that should be made
  • There will always be someone that needs more of your time than you can give

But at the end of the day, can we say that we have truly followed God? If we have, then we can be confident that we have been obedient. Ministry takes patience, passion, and endurance. This week has been a good reminder of that. There will always be more to do. Our job is not to check everything off our to-do list; our job is to simply be obedient. When the unexpected happens, we must be willing to lay aside our plans so we can follow God’s plan. When you look at it from that perspective, overwhelmed doesn’t seem like the right word anymore. Maybe blessed is a better word to use.

Another youth pastor has shared how he has gotten a free Xbox 360 and a free iPod Touch. I’m typically the super skeptical, check everything out on snopes type of guy, but this is actually legit. I’ve debated putting this on my blog, but I’m giving it a quick shot. You won’t hear any more about this, so just skip over this if you’re not interested. If you’re willing to deal with a little advertising inconvenience, you can get a free iPod. Here’s how it works

  1. Click this link: http://www.youripodtouch4free.com/index.php?ref=4492862
  2. Sign up and choose an account type (Referral is the easiest).
  3. Complete just 1 offer (like Blockbuster, Netflix or Stamps.com) and then refer up to 8 people to do the same under your referral link. (The 16gig iPod Touch needs 8 referrals, there is also a 8gig iPod Touch, or cash offer as well)
  4. Receive your iPod Touch FREE!

First off, this is only for adults. Sorry, no Teens! It will require that you try out one of the advertising services, and some of them have a slight cost involved to try out the service. The truth is that I would love to have one of these, but there is no way I can justify spending money on one. My older 1st gen iPod Nano still works, but it doesn’t have video or wifi.

How do they do it? The sponsoring companies actually pay for the iPod. By showcasing their services, they hope to gain some new customers. It really is not a typical pyramid scheme, because there is no investment from you. The money comes from the sponsoring companies. If you are thinking about trying out netflix or blockbuster or even printing your own stamps, then you are really not out anything. If you have any questions, then post them in the comments or shoot me an email.

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