My faith is so tiny!
God blew my mind today... Chesapeake.. we are here to play ball!
Today we had our Easter Egg Hunt for the City of Chesapeake!
Year 1- approximately 150 people
Last year, yr 2- approximately 400 people
Today we saw well over 2,000 people come out!!!
With age and experience under our belt our people handled this in stride!!! I've made no secret about the fact that we've had a rough go of it lately but our people have been energized! We're expectant... we're prayed up... we're walking in faith.... God is kicking our rear!
We have several enticements for people to come back this weekend and next. I can't wait to see what God does through this.... I'm believing for a breakthrough that kicks our tail! God is amazing and he totally awed us today. Today was a big day for inflating the faith of our people...
The true test however, is tomorrow and next week (and the week after and the week after, etc.) I'm believing we could be on the front end of a wave from God. He's about to pour his blessing out and we're standing with hands wide open. I can't wait! I'm so jacked up!
For those of you who follow our story through this blog... please pray for us.... pray that God would bring people... that our church would love like never before and that the message of the Gospel will be clear and compelling... We're going to work like it depends on us but pray like it depends on God. Please join us!
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
As a side note our city does an Egg Hunt at the same place the day before Easter every year... it forced us to get the Saturday before... we've redeemed the day and now we ARE the Easter week Kick-Off in our city. After today I'm positive we'll have several thousand next year.
As I mentioned, the city does an Egg Hunt next week. From what people told me today our event is already BETTER THAN THE CITY! We were thanked hand-over-fist for how we don't charge a penny. Honestly we were a bit overwhelmed with the amount of kids vying for eggs. We adjusted on the fly and at the end of the day I heard of next to no complaints... so many thanks and no complaints!
God used today to remind me of my faith and I believe he'll use the next few weeks to tell me how big he really is as people come to know him!
Singing a New Song
Last night I had the honor of attending the opening of Epic City Church's new space in Norfolk. They are a church plant a little older than we are. Over the last year I've found a kinship with Robb, the Pastor and his family. (His wife Shaula keeps a great blog here.)
Last night was the culmination of so much effort on behalf of their people. As I stated in previous posts, this church appeals predominantly to a younger segment of the population so they didn't have the cash to pay for much and they got very creative with solving problems in their new space. I won't get into the details here (read Shaula's blog) but what I will say is that I felt in awe of what God has done through this band of brothers and sisters.
I was at their place about a month ago during construction and I was amazed at what they had done just in that time. Adversity after Adversity has hit Robb and his team but they were foolish enough to believe that God would come through on their behalf. He most certainly did.
The title of my post refers to a song they played last night. Robb has always been great about creating a powerful worship environment and last night was no different. One of the songs however hit me more than any of the others. It's the song "Blessed be your name" by Matt Redman. Although I've heard the song 1,000 times it was last night, in that place, among these people, inside of this moment, and with this history that the words resonated like never before:
"You give and take away
You give and take away
Yet my heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be your name"
Robb's church has experienced "giving" and "taking away". As that portion of the song hit I could sense a "new song" with these same words. Lets face it... you've sang that song too and until you can put those words into context we have no clue what it really means to praise God when he's taken it all. Saying that we praise God when he's taken it away sounds great when you're considering lunch plans at a nice resturant after church.... try shouting those words when you feel like the wheels have come off.
Last night when the crowd screamed those words out I could tell that this was a new song for this church. This song will never be the same humdrum song. They all know what it means to praise God no matter the circumstance and it's because of their Pastor. He was foolish enough to trust God and last night was one affirmation that God honors our faith.
Great job Epic! Keep singing your new song.
Worship Pastors on American Idol
Everyone by now knows that Chris Sleigh is a Worship Pastor with Seacoast Church in SC but did you know that there is another Worship Pastor left on the show?
Phil Stacey is the worship Pastor for First Coast Christian Center in Jacksonville, FL.
I've noticed that several of the contestants this year are very comfortable talking about their faith in everyday terms. On their site several mention Christ. I don't know any of them personally but it is nice to see several believers among the top in this competition.
Another article referencing Stacey's church.
Block Party Trailer
This week I've been hunting down info on purchasing equipment to create a Block Party Trailer. I'm determined that this summer we're going to be very aggressive in our public profile.
Our State Convention and my Alma mater have teamed up in a program called Liberty Link. Basically they will send a team of students to do all sorts of stuff and you pay the students' travel costs. One of the things they have is a "Block Party Trailer". They bought it from this group.
This trailer comes equipped with everything you'd need to throw a party just about anywhere... Inflatable games (moon bounces), a grill, table games, sporting equipment, etc.
We have a trailer that we're barely using that we're going to put to use in a big way this summer. I'm looking right now at prices for all of the stuff it'll take to pull this off well. I figured I'd share some sites with you in case you want to take the ball and run with it for your church. After looking into this I'm thinking it can be done well for about the cost of one direct mail blast. We're definitely going to make it happen.
Sells them for $15k: http://www.timothyinstitute.org/
Blue River Association
Huron Baptist Association
So my deal is this... How many of you have utilized this concept for a consistant time-frame? Also, do any of you own a trailer like this? If so, would you be willing to send me what you know?
Hammered or Screwed?
The following comes from a church planter in our area. His name is Ron Jones and he Pastors Symphonic Church in Norfolk. It's great stuff. Check out his blog here.
hammered or screwed
Let's say full life was represented by a block of wood. Whatever you think that life means, whatever your picture of a fulfilling life is, just picture it as a block of wood. Assuming you want to go into this life deeper and deeper, and remain fixed in it, what would you rather be? A nail? or a screw? Nails definitely go deeper faster; just a few whacks and they're in. Screws take more time and effort to go into the wood. The difference between the two shows up after some time has elapsed and the wood has been exposed to the elements; heat, cold, rain, stress. Nails tend to back out of the wood. Screws stay in place. You can usually tell the nail people, at least they stand out in Christian circles. They're the ones who think they got whacked on the head by God and driven completely into Jesus Christ. Then life grows cold and difficult and they feel themselves coming out of the wood. So they go find another meeting where they can be whacked back into the wood again. And so on and so on the rest of their lives until they have a form of religious brain damage from getting hit in the head so much. It is much healthier and true to view ourselves as screws turning one thread at a time into full life. There is a point at which we enter the wood; for us it is the cross of Jesus. Then, one thread at a time a Christ-follower goes further in. Each thread matters; each turning moves us in the direction we desire. It is slow going sometimes. We envy those who seem to be so deep. But we remain in his hands. We don't back out. It has cost too much to come this far. We learn to wait and we learn that the next turn into real life comes when we least expect it. And..."being confident of this, that he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6) The questions you need to ask yourself (Christ-follower or not) are these: What is my view of a truly fulfilling life and where did it come from? What resources do I have to enter and to remain in full life? How long will that life last?
I have absolutely LOVED to see LifeChurch.tv in action over the last few years. I've been thoroughly impressed with about everything they've done from LIVE Satellite Video Venues to seeing 100 families move to Phoenix, AZ to adopting churches in TX and FL to giving away their graphics to the internet campus and the partner ministries where churches sign up to have a Life Church service but keep their own identity.... ALL of these things have been cutting edge and over the top... but my jaw dropped when I saw THIS POST!!!!
Yes. I admit it. I have a myspace. I promise I know everyone on my 'friends' list though.
So today I log on and right there on my splash page in a place where people usually advertise a bunch of garbage I see "Naperville Church". Sure enough, I click the link and I'm taken to a website for Crossroads Community Church in Naperville, IL.
There are reports out that suggest Myspace holds a TON of the 20-30's crowd... it's not just a teenybopper phenomenon. So I applaud the staff at Crossroads for taking a chance on technology. I have come across a bunch of churches using mypace for their church (we are using it for an upcoming mission trip: myspace.com/focalpointchurch) but this is the first time I personally have seen a church advertise there.
Now... I only wish they could help Crossroads target their message better. I live a LONG way from Naperville. I do have a friend on my friends list who I believe lives in Naperville though so maybe that's how it went down. Either way again I say 'great job' Crossroads.
This year I've taken my time more seriously. Most specifically I've taken account of how much time I spend with my family. Almost to a person the greats of the previous generation of Pastors have said "I wish I spent more time with my wife and children." Even the great Billy Graham is quoted as saying so much.
A few things from my own life.
1. I've started to take Fridays as a real day off.
2. On those days I spend time with my son. We have daddy/son day. The last two weeks I've taken him to Chuck E Cheeses. He's loved it.
3. I've also spent time with my wife and son together. Last Sunday we went to "Glayzn'fire"... a pottery painting/glazing place. We went back today to pick up our work. That time last week was awesome.
4. I've encouraged my wife to let things go around the house from time to time. Our home is my wife's castle. She has an inward desire to keep the place clean and to get ahead whenever she can. Sometimes she needs me to remind her to relax. I've been doing that more and helping more often. A load of dishes goes a long way in our marriage.
5. I've kept the evenings to a minimum. You have to watch how many important things take up your time in the evening. I have an unspoken rule of 3 max... most of the time it's 2 evenings or less a week. I won't go past 3 unless someone just died.
There are more I'm sure... but I just want to get the reminder out. Pastors, spend time with your family. They are your first ministry. No matter how busy you are I guarantee with a little delegation and planning, no work load will have to compete with your family.
Most of us don't want to be overshadowed. No matter how spiritual we are there is something inside (our nature?) that wants us to be noticed. We all like the spotlight at times. Maybe not for the same things but we all want to be noticed none the less.
Tonight my beautiful wife Kristy (I married up) called me to the front door. "Tally, come look at this." she yelled. I walked outside where she pointed up at the lunar eclipse. There it was, the moon overshadowed.
While we were out there I leaned my head back and looked straight up to see the stars... well to see a few stars and a vast array of space. Lots of space. Kristy and I said in near unison "We're so small."
I said "Yeah. We don't like to think of that too much."
You know what? Tonight I was overshadowed. In a huge way. And I liked it. I really liked it.
I enjoyed being overshadowed because it reminds me how amazing our God is. Take some time and put yourself in position to be overshadowed. You'll walk away with a deeper sense of awe.