When it tastes like vomit
You can thank me for the title later.
As a Pastor I'm constantly in contact with amazing people who are thirsty for someone to call out the potential that sits dormant in their lives. Everyone has some level of it and like all things, God has given people unique areas. For some their potential is obvious and for others it takes a little digging but everyone has it.
I'm not one of these people who believes everyone can be anything they put their mind to. Not everyone will be able to swim like Michael Phelps and win 8 gold medals in one Olympics for instance. I can barely swim a lap without holding the side for a rest. While I have played football, baseball and basketball you're not going to find any articles written about my skills in any of those sports being very noteworthy.
Potential isn't about everyone winning gold or everyone holding a microphone or everyone being the PTA president. Potential is becoming the man or woman that God created when He brought you into being. It is fulfilling every ounce of opportunity with what God gave. I've often read that the human mind only fulfills 10% of it's capacity. In my unscientific estimation I'd say that's about what the average person uses in their total potential.
What keeps us from reaching our potential? The lure of the lackluster.
Lackluster is the word I use for the life not challenged. A lackluster life is one that returns to the same behavior as the day before. Usually the lackluster life is one that becomes routine and predictable. The lackluster life does not challenge assumptions, does not work through difficult circumstances, it worships comfortable and often wakes up fighting the same battles and noticing little change over long periods of time. That's a lackluster life.
YAWN! What a waste of potential.
The book of proverbs speaks to this life:
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. Proverbs 26:11
I really believe that many people live the lackluster life because they have accepted returning to the old ways of life just like a dog returning to eat their own vomit. The very low expectations they have continue to ruin them time and time again. Sin is not viewed for what it is - the reason for Christ's execution (2 Corinthians 5:21) - but rather the lackluster Christian sees sin as nothing more than an acceptable alternative to momentary boredom.
What will it take for some to finally put an end to the wasted life? What will it take for some people to wake up and realize that they are created in the image of God and through the power of the Holy Spirit they can overcome their lackluster approach to living? I believe for many people they have to see their current existence for what it is. Vomit.
Once a person can view their current situation and begin to taste status quo as vomit then they will have enough. So long as you continue to spray Cool Whip on your problems you'll continue to eat the meal of mediocrity and never fully realize the abundant life that is found in obedience to Christ.
I'm not interested in people achieving material success and using the cross as a means to an end. Quite the contrary. I'm interested in people getting so frustrated with the status quo that they get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit move them into communion with the Father through the sacrifice of the Son. I believe God does not create junk and every person has been wired to fulfill their potential to the glory of God.
When we don't fulfill our potential, God gets his glory reflected into fewer places where people need to know Him. Christian man or woman, God put you right where you are to shine for Him and to make his name famous. Part of achieving our potential is to leverage all of our influence for his Glory. When we live the lackluster life then we miss out on one of the most powerful parts of our existence... to have God use us to touch the eternal destiny of another soul.
So when will people finally let go? When will Christians who know better quit "falling" (read: mistake, slip, accident, oops, screwed up, mess up) repeatedly? When they trust in Christ not only as fire-insurance but as Lord of their lives and begin to notice that sin tastes like vomit. Then and only then will they see their life as Jesus sees them. They will see that they are eating a meal not befitting for a child of the living God.
If you're living a lackluster life because you continue to return to your vomit I pray today is the day you see it for what it is. See that temporary gratification you run to as the very wall separating you from the fullness of Christ living in you.
Don't waste another day on excuses and lackluster living. Fulfill your potential, give God glory and change the world by living out the reason for which God created you.
Why We Need New Life
The human condition is not that we 'do bad things'.
The human condition is that we are all sinful beings. We are "b-b-b-b-ba-ba bad to the bone."
By our very nature we are people who are predisposed for things that do not line up with love. Christianity points out that we're all on the same playing field at the cross of Christ. All of us have fallen short of God's standard. All of us are in need of grace from God.
Today I came across a story on CNN about a 16 year old who was beaten to death in Chicago. To get the full passion with which I write the following words, read that story before you continue.
Having grown up and now ministering in Baltimore I can assure you that this identical story can be written with the city of Baltimore as the backdrop just as easily.
What this story points out is that there is an evil in this world so brutal and so deranged that it's unspeakable to most people. This evil however does exist.
As a society we have allowed a vocal minority of people rise up to tell us that our children should not hear of God. We are told that we must depend on government regulation and intervention for our society to work. We are told that a family is no longer the necessary cornerstone to society but rather 'it takes a village'. In the meantime our society suffers. Our children are brainwashed to think their great great great grandparents were monkeys and their greatest of ancestors was a tadpole created from electrocuted snot soup.
The reason people need to learn of the love of the Gospel of Jesus is that we are not people simply who do bad things. We are naturally (when left to our own) people with a rebellious nature. Certainly not everyone is out to kill but we all at the very least consider ourselves above others. We have lost the common courtesy to hold a door in most cases. We are a self indulgent people.
Many of us have the capability to help and love our neighbor but we walk on by instead. After years of social media, the One Campaign, Kiva, Blood Water Mission and other fine organizations alerting us of needs around the world we continue to let people die for no reason. We are all broken people. Lets just admit it already. As a society lets stop trying to pretend we're all naturally good. We're not. We're all screwed up. Some just mask it better than others.
The typical reaction to a murder is that our politicians come out and talk about creating new gun laws. We blame inanimate objects for the problem. Our politicians blame metal. I wonder if after reading this story will our politicians lobby for tougher 2x4 laws? I'm not making a joke here. I'm making a point that this is the 'leadership' we receive because this is the leadership we choose. At the very least we allow a void that gets filled by people who have yet to acknowledge their own frailty and brokenness. In short we follow leaders who consider themselves a god. They believe they have all of the answers and faith is a fairy tale. The problem is not with the tools used for violence or hate, the problem is found in the heart that hates in the first place.
We must take off our rose colored glasses.
We are fooling ourselves if we believe that our societal issues can be repaired by government, 'villages' or highway signs. What we are dealing with are conditions of the heart. Whether you like faith or hate it you must acknowledge that the more Christianity is pushed to the sidelines and the more that Christians sit silent in the public square, the more common these incidents become.
Today America has more children born into families without both mother and father married than ever before. We are right now seeing the results of fatherless homes in our inner cities. We are handicapping authorities in every way possible by allowing groups to get publicity out of attacking the public servants who protect us as a society. Ultimately we as Christians are to take the blame for remaining silent and on the bench.
Every school in this country would love to have us volunteer and love on young people but we don't. We leave it to 'someone else, something else, somewhere else'.
People need to know of the new life they can find in Jesus Christ. People need to know that their life is not an accident. People need to know that their life is ETERNAL and not simply a 70 year sprint with no meaning. People need to know that love wins. People need to know that there is a God who knows them, loves them and expects no magic tricks. He simply wants to be allowed to take up residence in their lives so HE can do his thing. People need to be loved.
People need to know that their life matters, their existence matters and they have a Heavenly Father who believes they matter!
People need the love that leads to new life in Christ.
This is why we're here!
This past Sunday at Captivate Church 4 people crossed the line of faith and trusted Jesus Christ for new life in Him. Ephesians 2:8-10 promises that they have an eternal life in Christ not because of their inherent 'goodness' but rather because of grace through faith. If you are interested in learning more about a new life in Christ please contact me or visit CaptivateChurch.com for our grand opening this Sunday at 10 a.m. - 10626 York Rd, 21030!
We're also starting a new church in East Baltimore at the corner of Orleans and Luzerne Avenue near McEldery Park. Pray for us as we attempt to bring people new life in Christ.
This blog has been entered in a blog contest put on by the Baltimore Sun. I'd love to drive some traffic here as we prepare to open. If you would be so kind to help our cause, please take a moment to vote for this blog in three places.
1. Misc. - Defies a category.
2. Personal- Blogs about people.
3. Best Overall- You know what that is.
We're Better Together
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Dr. Michael Catt invited me to a conference he hosts each year called "ReFRESH". The church paid for myself and an associate to fly in, gave us a rental car and great accommodations at a nice hotel by the water. Their church greeted us with a standing ovation which made me speechless at their love for us. What you need to know is that it wasn't corporate either, we were truly impressed with the love we received from every single person we encountered at Sherwood. Whether it be staff, volunteers or an elderly lady who grabbed me and smiled as I walked by in the worship center. A spirit of love rests all over the people of Sherwood.
From the Executive Pastor Jim McBride giving us a personal tour of their 100+ acre sports park to various staff members like Pastors John Spencer and Jim Jewell taking us out to eat, we were treated with a great deal of love and appreciation. We also had a great time hanging with Tracy Goode in the technical production room. Everyone and I mean everyone went over the top to love on us and we appreciated every bit of it. We only were able to spend 3 days on th e ground but I walked away feeling like honorary members of this great church. What Sherwood doesn't know is that God used their pledge of support to nudge me into taking a step of faith with our facility selection. Once we signed on the dotted line I had no idea how generous they would be. As a missionary on the front lines it is great to know that myself or m y team are not left alone. This church will reach many people far from God because we've got friends and our ministry is better together!
Upon my return from Sherwood it felt that the weight of the ministry was landing on my chest. I went from being in a place of peace and comfort and rest in God's word communicated by great preachers of the gospel to being thrust back into the day to day grind of getting our two locations off of the ground. With bills beginning to come in and systems not quite in place to even some heated moments within our team I quickly longed to be back on a plane to Sherwood. As you may suppose, God have any of that though.
What God does have are brothers in Christ going through the same thing here in Ba ltimore. This morning (Friday) I hustled around to get things in order to take the time to drive and pray with some fellow church starters. We ended up over in O'Donnell Heights, the housing project in which I was raised through my elementary years. I had the opportunity to pray for the people and beg God for him to pull more boys and girls out of that environme nt and place them into the Kingdom of God so they too can rise up to lead others. As I walked the streets it became clear to me as well that many of my concerns are petty compared to the streets on which I walked as a child. God has brought me far.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter and took time to pray this morning, thank you. I felt your prayers and God spoke to me when I needed it most. As I received your many text messages, emails and facebook comments I was able to thank God for you and return the favor because we truly are ... that's right... better together. God bless.
Evening at Sherwood
Sherwood: More than a Movie Church
Sherwood Baptist Church is known as the church that put out the movies "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof". Both movies are known for their powerful story lines and life-giving messages. What I am left with during my visit is the overwhelming sense that this church is NOT a movie church. This church is FIRST a life-giving church in their community and then a church that does movies to spread that spirit to the rest of the world.
Sherwood is lead by a Pastor in Dr. Michael Catt who loves Jesus, loves people and is a man full of faith that God wants to move on behalf of his people. It shows.
The church sits in Albany, Ga which is a nice town but not exactly as large as Atlanta. It is a small town with some small town charm. Within this 'small' town is a church with a big-time heart. Sherwood has many ministries to reach out to those less fortunate, they have an 82-acre sports park they have built for the public, they give generously to many ministries all over this town.
In addition to what Sherwood does alone here in Albany, they have partnered in a very close way with a neighboring church that is almost exclusively an African-American congregation. Dr. Catt calls his friend, Dr. Daniel Simmons the 'co-pastor' of Sherwood Baptist Church. Dr. Simmons is actually the Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church here in Albany. Both of these men deserve great credit for the friendship they have forged, how closely they work with one another and how their partnership has bridged the racial divide for many in this community. I had a gentleman tell me during a break yesterday that he is thankful for their friendship because there are words that were spoken in his home that his children have never heard spoken in theirs. Powerful testimony to the power of Christ in the lives of these men.
Their friendship has enabled these two congregations who reach different people to often partner together as one in order to reach more people with the gospel of Christ. In a small southern town this is nothing to sneeze at. Their friendship is evident and their ministry is more effective because of their willingness to love one another and minister together.
I'm truly honored to be partnering with Sherwood Baptist Church. They have been an exemplary model for how a church reaches their own town and out to the world. Thank you Dr. Catt and thank you Sherwood.
Get To Know Me & My Personality Pattern
Taking Tony Morgan's lead I completed the new Personality Pattern test. Mine is pretty accurate. What's your pattern?
You tend to feel at home wherever you find yourself, even in unfamiliar settings, with new people. It takes a lot to rattle you, and when rattled you recover quickly and gracefully.
You are usually not self-conscious or nervous when you're in an unfamiliar environment or with people you don't know.
You are a "glass half-full" kind of person, always on the lookout for the silver lining. Your happiness is contagious, which is why others like to be around you.
You do not feel that the world is an intrinsically depressing place; you are not the kind of "realist" who thinks that only fools find joy in life.
You come up with a lot of ideas; if one doesn't work out, there's always another waiting in the wings. You often have interesting solutions to difficult problems. You're practically a one-person brainstorming session.
You are less interested changing the world than in dealing with things as they are. Unlike those who spend all their time trying to solve problems, you prefer to zero in on things that work and stick with them.
You are good at solving problems, coming up with original ideas, and seeing connections between things, connections that most other people miss. People with a high score on the "creative" trait often are employed in such fields as finance and scientific research, and enjoy avant garde and classical music as well as literary fiction and scholarly non-fiction.
You do not shun abstractions and concepts in favor of the concrete and tangible.
You are a quick study. You generally don't need to have things explained to you more than once. When presented with a problem, you will often have an instant understanding of where to look for the solution.
You do not take your sweet time when presented with a new task to complete or problem to solve. You don't avoid assignments that require you to learn new skills.
You are thoughtful, rational, and comfortable in the world of ideas. People find you interesting to talk to. You're the living embodiment of the saying "You learn something new every day." In general, those with a high score on the "intellectual" trait are employed in such fields as teaching and research, and are enthusiastic about reading, foreign films, and classical music.
You do not avoid abstract conversation, experimenting with new ideas, or studying new things. It bores you to stick to the straight and narrow of what you already know.
You are ready to talk at the drop of a hat. Whether you're in the office or at a party, you're likely to be found gabbing away in the middle of a group of people. If you have a high score on the "extroverted" trait, you are probably among those who enjoy communicating with their friends (on the phone, on line, texting…), hanging out, and finding the best parties.
You are not shy or unwilling to spend a fair amount of time socializing. People you meet generally do not feel they have a hard time getting to know you.
You would rather hang out with others than spend time alone, and you'd far rather be doing something with your friends than just sitting around. You're happy in a crowded room, club, stadium, or auditorium.
You're not a private person who is ill at ease in a group; you don't view excessive socializing as a waste of time.
You are not a slave to your emotions. It takes a lot to upset or unnerve you. That's why you're a good person to have around in a crisis.
You don't let it all hang out, which means that those around you often don't know the pressures you're under or what you're going through. You're not the kind of person people run from in a crisis.
You strive to master everything you undertake. You tend to learn quickly and do not shy away from challenges.
You are not a "que sera sera" type of person, nor do you go easy on yourself when attempting to master a new skill or get a job done.
This weekend was a great weekend in the life of this new church, Captivate Church. We believe God draws people to Himself with an irresistible appeal so we're working to build a church that does exactly that.
During the month of September we're inviting people who are interested in Captivate Church to join our 'launch team' for worship. On Sunday we had a great crowd and we had an amazing time together.
We're just 3 weeks away from public launch on October 4th but we can feel the momentum building. Paint is going up on a bunch of walls, we're unwrapping chairs and electricians were at the facility this morning installing power to the Children's auditorium. It's all coming together.
Our team is pretty amped up and we can't wait to welcome the community to weekend services in our new space. God has blessed and we're honored to create a church that will reach people in the Baltimore area.
Thank you to all of you who sacrifice and give so that this church gets birthed here.
Why We're Here
This video explains why we're here. It is a thank you to each of our partners so far and it also serves as a clarion call for people in our region to know that we're focused on people far from God finding freedom and life in Jesus Christ.
It pumps me up!