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Unleash

March 2, 2010 — 2 Comments

I’m getting excited about our trip down to Anderson, South Carolina this week for the Unleash Conference. We’re leaving tomorrow and hopefully heading into some warmer weather. Jennifer and I have been every year and I love the encouragement that we receive from the NewSpring staff. We try to take a different group from Cornerstone each year to expose them to the hospitality and vision of NewSpring. You can’t help but leave “fired up” about what God has called you to do. All the details about the conference can be found on the website, along with a listing of all the breakout session topics.

If you can’t make it to the conference, then you can join in and watch the main sessions online at http://unleash.cc/

Here is just a sample of what you can expect. I look forward to meeting up with some online friends. Leave me a comment or send me a message on twitter if you will be there.

Promo: “Unleash 2010″ from NewSpring Production on Vimeo.

A One Day Event focused on the church and it’s potential at NewSpring Church on March 4, 2010. Visit newspring.cc/unleash for more information.

As some of you may know, since the first of this year we have been working with First Baptist Church in Galax.  They are currently in between pastors, so Sam, my co-pastor at Cornerstone has been preaching and serving as their interim pastor. He’s still working for Cornerstone, but he is also helping them through their time of transition. We have stated that we want to be the best church for the community, not just the best church in the community. By being Kingdom minded, we are showing the local community what happens when we cooperate instead of compete. We have been preaching through the same sermon series and working together on the messages each week. At Cornerstone, we have wanted to do a baptism service during the winter months, so Sam came up with the idea of a joint worship service between the two churches.

This Sunday, we are moving our Sunday evening service to First Baptist and joining them for a combined worship service. We are coming together to celebrate. Our worship band will be joining with their choir as they lead the service in worship. They practiced together last night and everything really came together and sounded great. Even though the styles may be a little different between the two churches, we come together with the same purpose of lifting up the name of Jesus Christ. Join us this Sunday evening at 6:30 for a time of celebration through worship and baptism.

This past weekend, we hosted a youth conference at our church. Right before the conference started, we clicked on a message to update to the latest version of Adobe Flash Player on our main computer.  Did I mention this was right before the conference started :-)  Since it was a windows computer, you can guess what happened. Constant crashing and serious stress. For the first fifteen minutes of the conference, Tyler and I were frantically doing a system restore to get the computer back up and running. Luckily our worship band was able to keep playing and we got everything running smoothly by the time the teaching started. Since one purpose of this blog is to share lessons learned, so I want to share some new policies that we will be implementing for our windows computers.

Scheduled Updates:

From now on, automatic updates are officially turned off on our main computers. All software updates will be performed on Mondays or Tuesdays so that we have time to troubleshoot and keep things running smoothly for Sunday mornings. Even updates that seem unrelated to the programs you use may render the computer unusable. Just last week, a family member had a windows update cause their Windows XP computer to Blue Screen during reboot. For your health and sanity, don’t do an update right before a service, wait until you have plenty of time to fix things when they go wrong. And it will happen eventually. Remember we are talking about Windows.

Restricted Access

I’m locking down the computer to prevent people from installing any programs or updates. I hate to do this, but with any computer that is used by multiple people, you have to protect it. I already use OpenDNS to filter the internet and Microsoft Security Essentials for Antivirus protection, but it is still too easy to install malware and viruses. And you need to check the computer regularly to ensure that the software and media installed are legally owned by the church.

Backup

Take advantage of the System Restore tool in Windows. It has saved me numerous times. I also backup the computer weekly, but System Restore works for most problems. Just choose a date and time when the computer was working smoothly and Windows will roll back your files to that date.

And Finally, Get a Mac

Make plans for switching over to a mac. Seriously, if we could afford it, I would put in a mac pro this week and make the switch. I use a MacBook Pro and have been spoiled by the ease of keeping things running smoothly. Macs are not without problems, but they have greatly simplified the user experience.

What else do you recommend? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Over the past 14 years, I have been to numerous conference for students. I’ve taken groups to all of the major conferences, but there is one that stands out as my favorite. I have seen how a weekend spent in the Bible can totally change a teenager’s life.  I started attending the PlanetWisdom Student conference when it was organized by Shepherd Ministries with Dawson McAllister teaching and Al Denson leading the worship (yeah, I’m getting old)  Mark Matlock has done the teaching for a while now, but one thing has remained the same.  While bands have changed (Dutton, Addison Road, Plumb, and Mercy Me), the quality of the conference is top notch year after year. You can expect great teaching from the Bible, great worship, and some times of great fun orchestrated by the Skit Guys.

I was really disappointed to see that the conference was cutting back this year and not coming to Charlotte. But when we found out they were offering the weekend as a simulcast, we immediately signed up. Tonight we are hosting this conference and are expecting teens from many different local churches to attend. I think it is a great idea to bring local teensagers together to worship and learn together.

It’s not too late to attend. The cost is only $15 at the door for the entire weekend. We open the doors at Cornerstone tonight at 6pm for pizza ($3 per student) and worship will kick off at 7:30. Our Sunday night worship team will be kicking things off. The conference will go to about 11:30pm tonight and start back up at 9am tomorrow morning. Everything will wrap up around 5:30 tomorrow night. For more information, visit the PlanetWisdom website, watch the video below, or contact me. Help us spread the word and get local teenagers to attend!

Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to help organize several community church events and help with several others. It’s not always easy, but I want to be part of a church that takes the prayer of Jesus in John 17 seriously. That we would be one. Our church wants to be a resource to other churches by planning events and hosting conferences. We want to bring local Christians together and to reach out to those in our community who are lost and hurting. We have been able to break through some racial and denominational boundaries, but we still have a long ways to go. In our efforts, I have noticed two huge enemies of cooperation between churches.

Fear & Pride

For many churches, fear is a way of life. The pastor is afraid of helping another church because they might have a different style of music or be from a different denomination. Worse yet, the leadership can become paranoid about losing members to another church, so they work hard at keeping people involved only in their own activities.

For other churches, pride can prevent them from working with other churches. Some churches reach a point where they don’t think they need any help. They believe their efforts are better than anybody else and it’s just too much of a hassle to work with others. I have seen churches that constantly make fun of the efforts of others and refuse to be part of any community activities.

I pray that I will be a pastor that is not afraid to cooperate and work together with other churches. I pray that fear and pride would not control the decisions in our church. In the New Testament, we see churches referred to by their city. We read passages about the church of Ephesus, the church of Corinth, the church of Jerusalem, the church at Antioch, and many more. Now, local believers are fragmented a million different ways by denominations and egos. Let me challenge you to reach across denominational lines and join forces with other believers in your community. You will be amazed at the impact it will have in your community, and don’t be surprised if people see the truth of John 17:21 become a reality.

Weekend Update

February 15, 2010 — 2 Comments

Let me just start off by saying, it was a great weekend. I wanted to share a quick update about some of the things happening in my world.

  • I love this sign

    Snow, ice, and cold temperatures.  That’s pretty much summarizes the last two months. Although everyone enjoyed the snow at first, it’s starting to wear out it’s welcome.  At least the kids finally were able to play basketball this weekend. The games have been canceled for the last several weeks, so they were glad to get back on the court. We have had snow on the ground here since the week before Christmas, and school was out again today. The sun did make an appearance and the snow is finally starting to melt, but that poses a problem for all the leaks we have in the roof at church.

  • We had a great Valentine’s dinner at the church Saturday night. Fun times and great food.  And I can’t forget to mention that the guys won the quiz challenge :-)
  • I arrived at church Sunday morning to find my entire office covered in sticky notes.  Several of the youth woke up at 4am on Sunday morning and spent several hours sticking up over 10,000 post it notes. Everything was covered, even the bathroom. It was quite impressive. Now I’m just wondering what to do with all of them.  Check out the pics.
  • Sometimes, my job as a pastor is to get out of the way of the Holy Spirit, and this was one of those weeks. I stayed up late into the night finishing up my message and tweaking it, but ended up not even preaching it. It was a powerful service in many ways. Our Sunday night worship team switched with our Sunday morning team and did an awesome job. And then Sam shared a story about the heartbreak that one of his former business partners is going through. We showed a video of his story, and then using skype, we patched him in live to our service. He shared about his wife dying of cancer, and what true love really is about. We are launching a series called Love Is…, and the story of Rogers and his wife was heart wrenching. The band came back up and did a couple of powerful songs, so by the time I got up to preach, I knew there wasn’t much that needed to be said. I shared 1 Corinthians 13 and challenged everyone to live it out this week and to remember the love that God has shown us. We’ll pick up the series next week as we continue to look at what true love is. The Sunday evening service was just as powerful. It was great having the Sunday morning band experience the evening service and they did an awesome job as always. I shared just a little more, but again, there wasn’t much to add after we watched and heard such a moving example of love.

I’ve read several books by John Eldredge, and I have always been encouraged by his honest and engaging writing style. He has a way of helping you deal with your past so you can reach your full potential of a new life in Christ. In this book, he is joined by his wife Stasi as they talk about the challenges of marriage. Love & War: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of is a great book that will encourage you, challenge you, and help you realize that “marriage is fabulously tough.” I want to share a few of my thoughts about the book.

Over the past few years, I have been discouraged seeing so many marriages end up in divorce. I saw people that I thought had it all together walk away from their families. As a young pastor, I sometimes feel a sense of helplessness as I perform wedding ceremonies. I want young couples to know that marriage is not always easy. That you must fight for your marriage so you can keep it alive and thriving. And I think most young couples don’t have a clue of what to expect.

This book really is an honest look at the battle that you face in marriage. Unlike most marriage books, this is not a book of quick fixes. It helps you to really dig deep into why you want to love and be loved by others. They share their own struggles and successes, and they give you hope that a marriage can go the distance.

I like that they share about marriage in the greater context of God’s plan.  Here’s a quote that I think really sets the tone for the book.

God created marriage as a living, breathing portrait laid out before the eyes of the world so that they might see the story of the ages. A love story, set in the midst of desperate times. It is a story of redemption, as story of healing: it is a story of love. God gives us marriage to illustrate his heart toward us. It is the deepest and most mythic reality in the world – that love is true, that God pursues us.

Overall, this is a book that I had trouble reading straight through. Not because I didn’t like it, but because it made me want to put it down to spend time with my wife. I am thankful for my marriage (we’ll hit 15 years in a few months) and I am thankful that our love is still growing stronger. I will recommend this to both new couples and couples who have been married for a long time as a reality check to help them navigate the troubled times that will surely be in their future.

I shared with my wife last week that I also want to start something new when I am counseling young couples preparing for marriage. If I am going to do the ceremony, I want them to promise me that they will come to me for help before they throw in towel and give up. I want to put this book in their hand and spend time with them. I don’t want them to feel guilty for having difficult times in their marriage. And I want them to know that marriage is worth fighting for.

Here’s some more info from the publisher:

What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we’ll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.

Full Disclosure: This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah. Click here for my full disclosure policy. You can purchase the book from the publisher or from my Amazon affiliate link.

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Crazy Love Review

Although it’s taken me almost an entire year to blog through the book, I want to finish sharing about each chapter of Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This has been one of the most popular series of posts on my blog, and I know that this book has made a profound difference on many people, myself included.

Do you consider yourself a person obsessed with Christ? The title of chapter eight is “profile of the obsessed” and it deals with the way we live our life for Christ. The dictionary defines obsessed as to have the mind excessively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic. Our culture makes us think that obsessed people are crazy. Words such as fanatic, extremist, weirdo, and worse are thrown at anyone who lives their life preoccupied with Christ.  However, Chan shares that “the idea of holding back certainly didn’t come from Scripture. The Bible teaches us to be consumed with Christ and to faithfully live out His words.”

This is one of the best chapters in the book. One passage that really had an impact on me personally was about the contrast between risk and safety. Chan says, “we’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world. Would you be willing to pray this prayer? God, bring me closer to You … whatever it takes …” When we live in crazy love with Christ, we are not living in safety. We are called to take risks and follow Him no matter what the cost. That is the picture the Bible paints of the disciples, and it is what we are called to do as well.

Let me leave you with several quotes about what an obsessed person looks like. Read over these slowly and apply them to your life.

  • People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.
  • People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.
  • People who are obsessed with Jesus live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another. Obsessed people believe that Jesus talked about money and the poor so often because it was really important to Him.
  • Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.
  • A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle. Obsessed people know that you can never be “humble enough,” and so they seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known.
  • People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden. Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving his people.
  • People who are obsessed with God are known as givers, not takers. Obsessed people genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world.
  • A person who is obsessed thinks about heaven frequently. Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is her in front of them.
  • A person who is obsessed is characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being.
  • People who are obsessed are raw with God; they do not attempt to mask the ugliness of their sins or their failures. Obsessed people don’t put it on for God; He is their safe place, where they can be at peace.
  • People who are obsessed with God have an intimate relationship with Him. They are nourished by God’s Word throughout the day because they know that forty minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them for a whole week, especially when they will encounter so many distractions and alternative messages.
  • A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn’t depend on circumstances or the environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God.
  • A person who is obessed with Jesus knows that the best thing he can do is be faithful to his Savior in every aspect of his life, continually saying “Thank You!” to God. An obsessed person knows there can never be intimacy if he is always trying to apy God back or work hard enough to be worthy. He revels in his role as child and friend of God.

Let me ask you again, are you obsessed with Christ? If you can’t answer that positively, then I urge you to fall crazy in love with Christ. This book is a great way to get started on the journey.

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