Sunday, April 29, 2007

One Year

It's hard to believe I've been at Grace a year already. At times I still mourn the loss of my Raleigh Road family. However, as I hear news from Wilson I'm reminded that life moves on without you. It's like when I visit Clemson's campus years after being there. I realize that I can't go back. It's a bitter-sweet feeling.

Life in Summerville is good. Very good. For us, life goes on too. As we make new friends and experience the new joys of life near family, we find home starting to really feel like home. It's pretty neat to be able to visit family without it having to be a holiday. Your conversations change from catching up on the weather and local sports to actually talking about your everyday life. And occasionally, the conversation can actually turn more substantive than what's happening in the news. We are actually getting to know one another. That's cool.

A year at a church as pastor is a big deal to me. For one, I wasn't fired. And I'm enjoying it as much or more than when I first started. I'm more certain than ever that this is what I'm supposed to be doing right now. There's real peace in that. I thank God for that.

It's also exciting to see God work in and through me here. It's been especially gratifying to see God work through the vision that I thought (but wasn't certain) was from God. I'm still learning to know when something is from God but the past year has certainly helped.

I still have so much to learn. I still don't lean on God enough. I still don't step out in faith enough on a daily basis. I don't dream big enough. I am still lazy, avoiding discomfort whenever possible. In short, God has a lot of renovating work to do in my life. Pruning is the biblical term, I believe. Probably painful, takes time and isn't always pretty. But it results in fruitful living. That's what I desire because that's what pleases and glorifies God. (John 15:8)

I know that the prayers of God's people have sustained me the past year. Many from Wilson (& elsewhere) have prayed for our family the past year. Many from Summerville have lifted us up as well. If you have prayed for us even once the past year--thank you! We need each other and the Body of Christ has really come through for me and my family. We are deeply grateful.

My prayer for the coming year? Don't quit working on, in and through me, God. Make me usable and wear me out! Help me grow more humble, gentle, loving and wise as I pursue Jesus. Help me follow Jesus even as I lead others to Him. I hope I'm just getting started in this awesome journey of faith.

It's also been just over a year since our Emma was baptized. (She'll be 8 in August!) We baptized her our last week at Raleigh Road. It's been neat to watch her grow in the Lord since that time. I praise God for that! Her baptism symbolizes what I'm about. As I borrow and modify Andy Stanley's churches mission statement in an effort to make it my own I'm about leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ around the corner and around the world. May God do that in and through me as I live the life He has wired me to live.

Thank you Jesus for this first year. May all the glory be yours!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Free music for your soul

Passion and Six Steps records wants you to pray for the people at Virgina Tech so much so that they are giving away 5 free downloads from their artists. Artists like Charlie Hall, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and the David Crowder Band are offering songs. Go to http://www.hopeforthehokies.com/ to download and don't forget to pray for VT.

"Father, we continue to lift up the students, parents, faculty and staff of Virginia Tech as they live through the aftermath of the massacre on their campus. Bring hope where there is darkness. May the light and love of Christ reign on that campus. In Christ's hope-filled name, amen."

Jesus Painting

This is a great clip reminding us of who Jesus is based on the Bible.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Virtual Church-can it work?

This is amazing. A virtual church that touched a real life. This is what I call a church being relevant. Check this out...

The ups and downs of Second LifePublished by Bobby Gruenewald April 20th, 2007 in LifeChurch.tv and Second Life. 8 Comments
Digg This!Add to del.icio.usEmail thisSubscribe to this feed

As many of you know, we launched a worship experience on Easter weekend in our virtual campus in Second Life. We had a great turnout, but did not have a glitch-free experience. Terry Storch gave a summary of some of the technical challenges that we experienced that weekend on his blog. However, his team worked hard the next week and were successful this last weekend at resolving those issues. The experience ran smooth.
Even with some early technical challenges…God is already using our island in Second Life!
Here is an example:
Just yesterday I had an email forwarded to me that was from a 41 year old guy named Troy who is a Second Life user that found our island while roaming around the virtual world. In the email, he describes the challenges that he has faced in real life and then on to how he began crying when he watched the mysecret.tv videos in Second Life.He went on to say…”After watching and praying with craig i raised my hands confessed my sins and gave myself to jesus for the first time in my life…. what a wonderfull feeling to be free of my sins, to find out how to get rid of my bitterness, most of my fears, to understand how i’ve been holding all these dark crazy things inside me for so long and now learning how to follow the path god has for me, to give myself to jesus..”
There couldn’t be any better answer to the “Why Second Life?” question than this guy’s story. We want to use this tool to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Honor Roll

As you read about of some of the people murdered at Virginia Tech, Monday, consider how these were ordinary people who allowed God to shape them into the kind of person who would just naturally do what Jesus would do.

"As we search for some “meaning” or lesson from the Virginia Tech massacre, it is predictable that we will read endless analysis of the life and mind of the killer, Cho Seung-Hui. But what about those he killed?

Lauren McCain, 20 years old, from Hampton, Virginia was a freshman. On her MySpace page she told readers she had two heroes, Jesus Christ and her brother.

Austin Cloyd, 18, originally from Illinois, loved kids and spent his summers on mission trips to Appalachia to minister to the poor.

Liviu Librescu, 76, was a Holocaust survivor from Romania, who fought communism in his home country before moving to Israel. He was murdered on Holocaust Memorial Day, as he tried to keep the killer out of his classroom until his students could flee.

Matthew La Porte, 20, was in the corps of Air Force cadets at Virginia Tech and reportedly died trying to help others who had already been shot.

Rachael Hill, 18, graduated from Grove Avenue Christian School in Richmond,Virginia and was described as “gracious” and “loving.”

Ryan Clark, 22, was the resident advisor killed in the dorm when he responded to sounds of violence. He was pursuing a triple major in psychology, biology and English.

The list - of 32 people filled with promise and hope - goes on and on. They won’t get nearly the amount of “ink” as the man who murdered them, but they and their families deserve our prayers and our remembrance."

-Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The challenge for us today is to consider whether or not we're prepared to live like Jesus. Not just try to live like Jesus. Because trying won't cut it. We need to train and prepare to live like Jesus.

Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches. He who remains in me will bear much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) If you want to be ready to respond well under the worst of circumstances, then train to remain connected to Jesus, the vine. Train by meeting with him each day in his word and with his spirit. Trust him. Follow him. Live like him.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Victory

"Father, I praise you for your hand in protecting the lives of the defenseless in our nation. I pray we'll humble ourselves and continue to pursue a culture of life in our nation and our world. Thank you for putting judges in place who value human life. I humbly pray this in Jesus' name, amen."
I received this email today. Join me thanking God for this decision. dg

From: Gary L. Bauer, Chairman
Campaign for Working Families

Special Bulletin – Good News!

It’s not often that I drop what I’m doing to write a headline like that. But, my friends, I am greatly encouraged today. The United States Supreme Court has upheld the 2003 ban on partial-birth abortions!

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

Not only will this ruling put an end to this particularly horrific form of infanticide, but it represents a tremendous victory for the American people. For years, overwhelming majorities of the public wanted this disgusting practice stopped. When the Republican Congress finally took action in the mid-1990s, Bill Clinton stood in the way by repeatedly vetoing the legislation. So the people took action at the state level, only to have the Supreme Court block the enforcement of state bans in 2000.

But a new election and new appointments to the high court changed the dynamic, and today the will of the people was upheld! And while we are still a long way from fully restoring the right to life in America, we have succeeded in ending abortion-on-demand at anytime, for any reason, by any method.

My friends, this is an important step toward restoring the sanctity of life in our laws; toward restoring the promise of America’s founding that we are all endowed by our Creator with the right to life. But this is just one step, won by just one vote, and only after a lot of hard work and prayer. While there are days when we will be discouraged and tempted to give up, days like today should make us realize that our efforts do matter, that we can in fact make a difference.

Today’s decision demonstrates why men and women of faith must remain engaged in the public square and why the appointment and confirmation of judges is so critical. Virtually every battle we are confronting in the culture war today is won or lost in the courts. But our judges are nominated and confirmed by the men and women we elect to public office. That’s why we must continue “fighting the good fight” for our values in the political arena, and so long as God grants me breath, I will do just that!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tax Day

Tax DayToday is a day many Americans dread -- the day you have to file yourfederal tax return. Here are some “tax facts” collected from varioussources that may amuse and annoy you.

The federal tax code, at 9 million words, is seven times longer than theBible.

The top 10% of earners, those with incomes of $100,000 or more, pay 70% of all federal income taxes.

In addition to the federal government, 43 states have their own separate income taxes. That’s why, according to the Tax Foundation, most Americanswill work 120 days this year just to pay their tax liability.

The average taxpayer will spend just over a day, 24.2 hours, preparing his taxes, but 60% of Americans will pay someone else, on average $207, to do it for them.

And if you think you paid too much in taxes this year, just wait. The current budget working its way through the halls of Congress assumes the Bush tax cuts will be allowed to expire in a few years, thereby raising taxes on the average American household by more than $2,600!

Courtesy of Gary Bauer, www.ouramericanvalues.org

Day of Sadness

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -Jesus, John 14:27, NIV

Bush marks ‘day of sadness’ for the nation President comforts Virginia Tech after student kills 32 and himself http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18148802/

Today we pray that in the aftermath of this tragedy God's grace would meet us all in our point of need. Whether it is to mourn the loss of a loved one, deal with the reality that it could have been us, or lift up those who will lead funerals and memorial services. May God be glorified and His peace reign in the hearts of those who trust Him

Responding to the Virginia Tech TragedyAs the details of the tragedy at Virginia Tech come in, tough spiritual questions present themselves: how could this happen? Where was God? How can we prevent violence like this? More >

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday?

If Good Friday is the day we remember that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross as an innocent man, then why do we call it "Good"?

Wikipedia defines it for us. "Good Friday is the Friday before Easter or Pascha. It commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus at Calvary. This year, it is on April 6, 2007.

Good Friday is a holy day observed by most Christian religions. Special prayer services are often held on this day with readings from the Gospel giving accounts of the events leading up to the crucifixion. Mainstream Christian churches view Christ's crucifixion as a voluntary and vicarious act, and one by which, along with resurrection on the third day, death itself was conquered." ("Good Friday", www.wikipedia.com)

It's good because if Jesus Christ (sinless, son of God) hadn't died for our sins, in our place, we wouldn't be celebrating anything. Christianity wouldn't be around. Jesus' death paid the price for the forgiveness and freedom we enjoy as Christians. He died in our place so that we could live in his.

Suffering was the path to life. It seems counter-intuitive. But then God likes to work that way to remind us that his ways are not like ours.

It's important that we remember the suffering that Christ endured. In fact, I recommend that ever Christian watch the Passion of the Christ every Good Friday. It puts our suffering in perspective. It puts life in perspective.

But if we lose sight of Easter in Good Friday we miss the point. His suffering and dying was overcome on the third day when God raised him from the dead. This showed that Jesus was an acceptable sacrifice for our sin. This showed that death and sin had been defeated. Therefore, life is now available to all who trust in the risen Christ Jesus.

I hope you'll celebrate this divine victory this Easter Sunday--whether you follow Christ or not. Either way, he died for you. The least you could do is live for him.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Guiness Book of World Records

I've been in two world records so far in my life.

1. Anita and I were part of the largest balloon launch ever in 1984. We were at the Clemson-Maryland football game in Death Valley. I can't remember how many balloons were launched (over 84,000) but Clemson beat Boomer Esiason and Maryland like 52-24.

2. Last October I attended Catalyst, a leadership conference in Atlanta, GA. We had about 10,000 people there and we had the world's largest pillow fight.

3. While it won't make it in the G-book, this year's 30th Cooper River Bridge Run may be the second largest run of it's kind in the country. There were over 30,000 people in the event.

Bridge Run Friends

These are the guys I started the race with. Well, actually, they all started ahead of me since I started in the 49-60 min. group.

Kent, my brother, the main reason I ran this race, is all the way to the left. Two of the three in the middle are his long-time friends. I'm on the right. These guys were fun to share the race with.

Bob, next to Kent, broke his toe in the first mile after being cut off. I think he still finished the race!