Community Fall Festival
Captivate was invited to join local organizations and businesses like Target and McDonalds in putting on a Halloween event called "Fall Fest". It's an honor that businesses approached us about participating and we were excited to be there. We got to have many great conversations and many invitations were given. Volunteers from the church came out and a great time was had by all. We're pumped to see how God uses these events in the community to bring people to himself. Here's a quick peek at what we had goin' at the Fall Fest.
A Sorry excuse for Sorry
Today I came across an article on ESPN where Jeff Fisher, coach of the Tennessee Titans (who have as many wins in the NFL as I do right now) apparently upset some people by wearing a Colts jersey while introducing former Colts coach, Tony Dungy during a charity event.
Understandably, some fans and radio personalities have raised a fuss about a coach who lost last week by 59 points wearing the jersey of another team.
Let me first say that I don't particularly care about either side to this trivial story. Football is a game. Nothing that I'm about to say should be taken to indicate I care very deeply about this situation. I care more for the principle at play and how I see this reflected in society as a whole.
According to the article, Fischer did something that I believe reflects a very poor use and understanding of an apology. This is Coach Fisher's direct quote from the article: "I'm sorry if I offended anybody but if I had to do it again, I would do it again."
Coach Fisher is not unique in his definition of an apology. I can't tell you how many times I've heard this type of apology between people. I can't tell you how many people I've met who believe this is an acceptable approach to their relationship with God.
Apologies to People:
"My bad, but I'd do it again."
When you give an apology you are admitting fault. At the very least you are admitting regret that your ignorance caused harm. What an apology is not is what Coach Fisher expressed. If a person is sorry it means they genuinely repent. They wish they could go back and do things completely different.
We can't have healthy relationships without healthy repentance. If we believe a healthy repentance is to say "I apologize but I'd cause the same harm again." A true apology is admitting fault and expressing a sincere desire that things would have been done completely differently.
Apologies to God:
"My bad, but I'd do it again."
The scripture is full of examples where God encourages us to live with integrity. God's word goes as far to say that even our thought life should be lived above reproach. We are called to a higher standard under the grace of Christ, not a lower one. Fortunately for us, in Christ we are forgiven of much. Our knowledge of how short we fall is no longer simply a reflection of how far off the mark we are but rather it is now used as a springboard to giving God more praise, honor and loyalty with our lives.
We are called as His children to present ourselves as living sacrifices because He first sacrificed himself for us. So when we sin our response can't be "My bad God, but I'd do it again."
If you want to see a genuine apology check out Psalm 51.
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifices of God are c]">[c] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.
18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
To date: 23 professions of faith and 9 baptisms in 3 weeks. We're pumped at what God is doing!
Check out a few shots from this Sunday, October 18th.
Daddy and Son Fun!
This evening Caleb and I created a monster. A pumpkin monster!
Captivate Week 2 In Pictures
Visiting us today was one of our interns from this summer named Zack. Zack has led a life that until a few years ago would have gotten him not much more than a ticket to prison or a morgue. God got to him in such a huge way that Zack is now a freshman at my Alma Mater Liberty University! I'm so proud of him. I wanted to show the crowd that God gets joy out of making broken people whole. Zack is a testimony to that!
See more below from this video which can be seen with others at CaptivateChurch.com
The point of the sermon today was that God goes on offense to save the most broken and busted among us. He used even Paul (self described persecutor and violent man) to plant churches and go on to write 2/3 of the NT... he can save and use you! Our scripture came from 1 Timothy 1:12-17. We also talked about the fact that the scoreboard is the Lamb's book of life. The place where the names of those who trust Christ for new life are found. Christ is on offense to get the score up! God doesn't want to just win, he wants us to run up the score. As a result, this church exists to reach people far from God.
I'm begging God to make this only the beginning of what happens here in Baltimore through Captivate Church and many others who preach Christ and draw people to Him.
Video Clips from Concord
We couldn't do what we are doing without the support of some amazing churches. One of those churches is Concord. We have been having a wonderful week getting to know the people of this great church. Sometimes people don't think about how new churches ever get started. For us most of the reason we even exist are because of amazing people sending us.
This morning some of Concord Christian's students came over to our booth and made up a cheer with us. I got into the act. We had so much fun one of the teachers invited me to stop in on their chapel service and say hello. Over at TheBaltimoreProject.com I've had several groups do the wave so I thought it'd be appropriate for this occasion!
This is a simple way for us to connect and have fun. Sometimes we relegate missions to something that happens far away. Visits like this let us interact with all age groups so they know who exactly they are praying for and supporting through their contributions. When we're on the front lines every day it's great to know people like this have our back! Check out some fun we've had this morning!
Larry Brey visit Recap
It's Wednesday and I'm on a plane to Knoxville, TN via ATL to see one of our great partner churches. This past week has been a whirlwind week! God has been more than gracious to us.
On Friday and Saturday we were beyond blessed to have with us Mr. Larry Brey of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. I've been around the church world for over 10 years since time as a volunteer at TRBC. There are very few churches like Elevation. There are very few leaders like Pastor Steven Furtick and there are next to no church cultures like the team assembled at Elevation. God is doing a very unique work in Charlotte through this group of men and women.
Last year I had the honor of visiting Elevation's office during my south east road trip with TheBaltimoreProject.com. My time with Elevation was of the highlights of my year. Pastor Furtick was generous enough to take a few minutes with me, Chunks Corbett, their Executive Pastor took a few hours over lunch and Mr. Larry Brey, their Connections Pastor spent several hours pouring into me. Prior to my visit this team knew next to nothing about me. I understand they made a call or two to some friends to verify who I was but I was not given nearly a day of their attention because of anything about me. I was given time because they are a gracious church who wants to share what God did through them.
During the visit with all of the leaders I was able to spend time with I did not ask about pipe and drape or where they buy their projectors or how they make their stage look cool. I spent my time trying to understand the "why" behind the "how". My philosophy is that anyone can make a stage 'cool' but not everyone can see a move of God on their watch. I wanted the wisdom that comes with a move of God. Not man's wisdom, but that piece of knowledge that spurs everything else.
That day I observed a team like I hadn't seen before. There was a cultural difference about the place. That cultural difference in my opinion comes from a culture of honor. Elevation has a few spices that make the flavor of what they do very unique among the church planting culture of today. One of those spices is honor.
Honor at Elevation is honor up/down/left/right... they bleed honor.
Bringing Larry Brey in was huge for our team. He doesn't do this every weekend. Again, he did not join us because we gave him a ton of cash (we didn't) or because we are so special (we're not), Mr. Brey came because Pastor Steven Furtick has encouraged his team to share freely with others. They remember when they were just getting started. Again, I am humbled and honored that Elevation has open hands with the blessing God is pouring out and it is such a privilege to have them invest in us.
I'm not going to get into the details of what Larry shared with us. Many of these principles can be learned by attending an Elevation event such as IMPART. I had the privilege of attending THR3E in April and it was like drinking from a fire hose. As an aside: To be honest I'm not a fan of guys whining about the cost of training events like this. Sell your TV if you believe God has called you and you believe what they have to say is a great investment. Too many people want a steak dinner for the price of a happy meal. Okay, that's off my chest.
What I will say about Mr. Brey's visit is that he is an encourager beyond belief. He teaches to the heart and he digs deep to make certain our team - all of us - are counting and have counted the cost. He asked challenging questions and he affirmed often. During our time with him we literally laughed, some cried and all of us hurt our hands trying to scribble enough down to keep up with the powerful lessons he shared.
I'd imagine we could catch more of the Niagra Falls with our open mouth than what could be crammed into our brains over the two days from the wisdom Larry shared. Another aspect of Larry's visit that was unique is the speed and repetition with which he reminded us that he was not the author of the wisdom. He gave so much credit to Pastor Furtick and said "I have the easy job, I just hit 'record' when I'm with Pastor and I hit 'play' when I'm with you."
Pastor Furtick thank you again for blessing us by affirming your team as they share with others. Thank you for believing in us and thank you for imparting wisdom to people like Larry Brey so they can bring it to the far reaches of the nation. Baltimore will be blessed because of your investment.
Mr. Larry Brey, thank you. Thank you for believing in our team and for teaching us the many valuable lessons we will need in moments, days and weeks to come. For our opening service our team implemented several of your suggestions immediately and we saw a big payoff. One example is that Drew gathered more parking team members and gave a speech to our parking guys that Vince Lombardi would be proud of. Our team was on fire for our opening day because of the investment you made. We are carrying those lessons forward as we prepare for week 2.
Again, thank you!
Night Before Launch
God has brought this church a long way. We want Baltimore to know Christ through us.