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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Let's Roll!

Coined by Todd Beamer on United Airlines flight 93 in Pennsylvania just before they took their hijackers down, this has become a rallying cry for many. I use it as well with all the inspiration his story brings.

Stop, Drop and Roll are more than a campaign to help kids put their burning clothes out. (as important as that is) It now means much more to me. (see previous entry)

After we encounter a holy, all-powerful God, we drop in fear and trembling, humbled by his majesty and convicted by sin. Once His merciful cleansing picks me up and am left grateful and humbled--I am ready to serve Him. I am ready to roll!

So where do we start? Well, I have a little list that I hope will help us get started. But I need more ideas! Help me see if this comments feature even works by leaving me some more ideas. I'm going to share all of these Sunday morning as part of my message. Hopefully, our people will take the 7-day challenge and begin at least one of these in the next 7 days. Your suggestion could make all the difference for someone next week.

  1. Take somebody’s lunch tray for them.
  2. Serve at the local soup kitchen for lunch.
  3. Take a meal to a neighbor for no reason.
  4. Tutor kids after school, at your house or at a community center, for free.
  5. Baby-sit for a single parent for free.
  6. Volunteer at the local food bank.
  7. Have a neighborhood family over for dinner or a cookout.
  8. Volunteer at your local school.
  9. Offer your professional services for free to a needy client.
  10. Take goodies to a retirement home and sit and chat for a while.
  11. Send a care package to a soldier.
  12. Work on a Habit for Humanity house one day with your kids.
  13. Work on our local ministry blog www.summervols.blogspot.com to get the word out about local ministries.
  14. By groceries for a needy family.
  15. Sit and talk with someone suffering from an illness.
  16. Take a meal and gift bag to someone home-bound.
  17. Meet an inactive member for lunch.
  18. Begin organizing Operation: Christmas Child for your Home Group or family.
  19. Host a neighborhood yard sale to raise money to go (or send someone else) on a mission trip.
  20. Prepare and send a care package or a card of encouragement to Graham & Ashlei W in East Asia, Steve & Marie L in Thailand, or The Palms in Kazakhstan.
  21. Collect costume and craft beads and send to the Awana club in Curacao.
  22. Free slaves internationally through www.stopthetraffik.org or
  23. Support families who are suffering because of religious persecution through www.rememberthose.org. “There have been more Christians killed in the 20th century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined.”
    U.S. House Resolution. Scripps-Howard News Service, September 28, 1996
  24. Lead your Home Group or family to send Bibles from your home to people being persecuted for their faith who want to share more with others in their country. www.biblesunbound.com.
  25. Lead a team to build a HC ramp for someone locally. Contact: Screven Association of local SBC churches. Contact office at 843-871-2410 to get more information or go to www.screvenassoc.org.
  26. Adopt a needy child for about $1 a day through Compassion International or World Vision. Write and receive letters. www.compassion.com
  27. Write a letter to a child you already support.
  28. Get your Home Group to build a school in Haiti. Costs about $3,000.
  29. Write a Christian who is imprisoned for their faith in another country. Do so in their own language through www.prisoneralert.com.
  30. Buy a goat for a family. www.worldvision.org or www.samaritanspurse.org.
  31. Invite your neighbors along with some friends from church to a Labor Day cookout.
  32. Start your own blog and write about your journey with Christ. www.blogger.com, www.myspace.com
  33. Invite a co-worker to meet your family for dinner at Zaxby’s or Moe’s.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stop, Drop & Roll

I can still remember the Dare2Share Blaze Tour. It's a youth conference where we took the youth group from Raleigh Road to share their faith.

The main passage for the weekend was Isaiah 6:1-9. The passage was taught over 3 sessions with the following outline: Stop, Drop and Roll.

Playing off of the basic technique taught to children to do when their clothes catch on fire, Greg Stier used this as a clever way to remember the basic thrust of Isaiah 6.

Stop. Stop and take a good look at God. His glory is blinding like the sun. His holiness convicting. Look at yourself. Painful, isn't it. Let the eye surgery begin!

Drop. The natural reaction of anyone who sees a holy, all-powerful God and then sees their own sin. Drop to your knees in humility, brokenness, and awe. (Now would be a good time to seek mercy)

Roll. Roll up your sleeves and dive in!

Once you believe that God is a good God who only wants to forgive you for everything unholy you've ever done, you receive that cleansing that is only possible because of Jesus' death on the cross (in our place). As I begin to comprehend the grace and mercy shown to me, I become grateful. Quickly my gratitude becomes a willingness to roll up my sleeves and join God in His search and rescue operation.

That's what Isaiah did after he encountered the holy, living God. We need that same encounter today. Have you seen God like Isaiah did? Reread Isaiah 6:1-9 and pray for God to restore your vision.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Here I am, send me!

Isaiah 6

Isaiah's Commission
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cutting-edge of Innovation for Church


I've heard of virtual church. Now we have Facebook church. Check out this article by LifeChurch.tv where they are embracing technology and seeking to make a difference.

Built on the Facebook platform: Church

What do you think? Is this going too far? Can we interact as the church and worship God using the Internet?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Obedience unlocks Understanding

Doing God’s will (obedience) unlocks more of God’s will.

"If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." --Jesus, John 7:17 NIV

Rick Warren says it this way, “Obedience unlocks understanding.”

Another writer says, “Kinship with Jesus is demonstrated not by correct doctrine but by doing God’s will. Membership in God’s kingdom is demonstrated not by good intentions but by the actual execution of God’s will.”

But are we not saved by faith? Yes, but faith that leads to good works. James writes, “Faith without works is dead." In other words, it’s no faith at all.

Therefore, obedience that flows from faith pleases God and leads to a better understanding of His will.

Want to know God's will? Go ahead and do what you already know is His will. As you do that, more of His will will come into focus. Just make sure you do that too!

Fast Media, or Media Fast?

Right now I'm listening to a nation-wide conference call with guest Carl George. Carl is a small groups & leadership guru in church ministry. He is best known for his metachurch groups model.

As it relates to hearing from God, His will, and what we're to do next, Carl talked about donig
media fasts.

To hear from God, Carl says, he has to
fast (abstain) from media (radio, iPod, TV, internet, literature) for chunks of time (1 hr, 5 hrs, whole day) to hear from God.

For example, before doing this conference call with leaders from churches all over the country, Carl sat down with a blank piece of paper and pencil and asked God, "What do you want from me today on this conference call?"

I think that's amazing.

And it was.

I didn't just hear Carl George's ideas about small groups. I heard what God wanted to say to me about a whole list of things including small groups, leadership, solitude, prayer, passion, inspiration, and the power of a fresh story. I learned a ton in the 45 minutes I listened. And I heard it all through Carl simply because he took the time to stop and listen.

I'm giving it a try. I going to schedule on my weekly calendar time to sit and ask God questions. I need to listen. Think. Without the distractions of any kind of media. This won't be easy for me, but I've benefited from it in the past. I have tasted and enjoyed the reward from this type of activity.

Give it a try and let me know what happens for you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What we are thankful for...

It seems only appropriate to thank the Grace family for all the gratitude poured out Sunday.

Everyone was given the opportunity to share what they were thankful for on a card. The response was overwhelming!

I found it profound that people and relationships were what we were most thankful for. God and faith were high on the list too. But it's appropriate that we would be thankful for people. God is passionate about people and we should be too.

I was moved just reading this list. I hope you'll slow down and read some, if not all, of the list. I hope you'll take advantage of the comments feature and add some more to the list as well.

These were shared by members and guests as part of our worship service Sunday, August 12, 2007. May they bless you as much as they blessed me.

Everyday of my life

Your eternal presence

Grace

Family and Friends

A comfortable living

Good Spiritual training

Freedom

Visit from Mary and Erika

Larry

Dr. Casterlone and my other doctors

Mike

Thankful for my salvation

Jesus

My Family

Good Health

Christian Friends

God’s Provision

Grace Christian Fellowship

The United States of America

Family

Friends

Youth trip to Carowinds

Trip to DC

Job

Church

A place to live

Food

Family

Jobs

House

Cars

Friends

Church – Grace

Money in the Bank

Health

Living in USA

Salvation

Husband

Children

Health

Parents

Church Family

In-Laws

Small Groups

Dubose Middle School

Home

Friends – old and new

Food

The Written Word

Men willing to serve our country

Education

My wife

My grandchildren

My health

My eyes and ears

My son, Darien

I can look after myself

Darien’s wife and children

Salvation

Family

Home

Health

Friends

Worship

Church

Music

Gifts

Blessings

Faith

Bible

The Ladies’ Bible Study Group

Air conditioning

Our vehicles

My job

My home

My beautiful children

My grandmother

My husband

My ability to walk again without pain

My senses – to hear, smell and see

Job

Home

Faith

Family

Friends

Health

Parents

Neighbors

Church

Feelings

Your Love

Salvation – loving and forgiving God

A loving husband

Children – 2 wonderful

Daddy surgery going well

Grandma almost 90

We have a job

We have a house

Our child in Brazil

Pets

Pastor and family

Teachers

People in nursery

Wonderful family

Great job that I enjoy

Comfortable home

Modern medicine and the miracles You work through it

For God’s grace, love, mercy and bountiful forgiveness

Beautiful, loving family

Great friends

Being able to provide for our children

Continued health for both “Pop” and “Dad”

My wonderful, loving husband

For every sunrise and sunset

The opportunity to stay at home with my children

For my loving mother-in-law and father-in-law

Grace Christian Fellowship

God working in my life

Wonderful husband

Being able to spend time with family last week

Health

Darien and Anita for leading our home group –We are better Christians because of it

Terry and Martha Fletcher for showing us the way back closer to God

My wife and children

Salvation in Jesus

Comfortable home and job

Air conditioning

Being able to read

Friends

Air conditioning

Summer vacation

My room

A Church family

God

My grandparents

My parents

Family

Friends

Grace Christian Fellowship

A home

The church leaders

America

Freedom

A great neighborhood

Relationships

Family

Good health

Shelter over my head

Ability to worship in public

Friends

Wonderful parents

Every blessing you have given me

Schools

Laurel

Boys – Josh and Jeremy

Job – paycheck

Health – to help me work

My family’s health

Grace Christian Fellowship

Darien and his commitment

Bible and the wisdom for life

Jesus and His love

Freedom to worship and love

Our family

Health

Move to MN to be with family

Relationship with God

Bible

Family Members who are saved and the peace that comes with knowing that

Ability to serve rather than be served because of illness or inability

God – Jesus Christ – Holy Spirit

Family

Church and ministries at Grace Christian Fellowship

Christian Friends

Open minds and spirits with desire to serve the Lord

Those that do not know Christ so that we can bring them to salvation

His Blessings

Family

Home / Shelter

Food

Church Family

Freedom

Mom and Dad

Jesus

Grace Christian Fellowship

Grant and Garrett

Job

Friends / Brian, Steve and Mike

Fishing

Darien and his family

Jimmy

Elders

My family and friends

House

School

Fun and laughter

Song and dance

Family

Health

Faith

Love of my family

God listens to me

Courage

Blessings each and every day

Family and their love

Being to provide for my family

Family

Health

Job

House

Jesus

Husband and children

Family

Home

Educations

Blessings

Wife and children

Christian father, mother and brothers

The Cross of Christ

Grace Christian Fellowship

Health

Job

Food

Family / Friends

Home

Loving God the Father

Healthy children

Supportive wife

Opportunity to finish school

Sister has moved to Charleston and is learning how to do things on her own.

Opportunity to be used in ministry

Great job

Jimmy

Grace and James

My home

Food

Clothing

Health

My sister

Grace Christian Fellowship

Darien and Anita

Doris and Gene

Terry and Martha

Family

Education

Extended family

My friends

The Bible

Good books

Healthy Baby Girl (Selah)

Both Mom and Dad can stay home with Selah

Sister-in-law moved into our home (w 2 kids) out of a bad situation

Girlfriends

Healthy home

Children

My husband’s job – able to provide for us

David’s college undergrad work is done

Too many to list

Ability to rejoice

Andrea

Bob

Jason and Mandy

David and Terry – kids

John and Becky – kids

Health

Wealth in Christ

Grace Christian Fellowship

Darien Gabriel

Gene Hundley

Terry Fletcher

Jimmy Reeves

Rick Smith

Jo Ann and Otto

Jamie and Obed

Katy and Rob

Anita Gabriel

Harry Brown aka "Mr. Brown"

Justin and Melissa

Grace Christian Fellowship

Terry and Martha Fletcher and our bible study group

Wife

Bible

Holy Spirit

Wonderful parents / in-laws

Life and all of the experiences it brings

The privilege of serving the Grace family

My family

My wife

My personal relationship with Jesus Christ

My Home Group

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Inspire Me!

Just back from Myrtle Beach, SC, where Anita and a couple from our church attended The Summit Leadership Event led by the Willow Creek Association. It was a simulcast as the event was actually in Chicago. At least 65,000 leaders attended the event either on-site or through one of many simulcast locations around the world. It was extraordinary.

I just finished doing the online evaluation survey so I wanted to share some of my reactions and takeaways.

There were many and that alone was huge for me. For whatever reason, my expectations weren't very high on this event. Some of that was the slate of speakers. Many I just didn't know or didn't think I wanted to hear from. Others I couldn't wait to hear. But I can truly say that I took at least one thing away from every speaker and many things from several of them.

Bill Hybel's talk (Whatever you do, inspire me) was just that--inspiring! He showed me the power of inspiration in the video clip and then live performance of Patrick Hughes, a boy born without eyes and crippled. We watched video of how his father sacrificed whatever it took to give this boy a terrific life. He is now a gifted musician who sings, plays piano and marches with the Louisville Cardinal Marching Band. And he played and sang for us at The Summit.

While Patrick was an inspiration in his overcoming incredible odds to have a life that mattered, this father inspires me more. He sacrificed his desires to make his boys dreams come true. I am humbled and moved to act.

Bill shared that to motivate others you have to motivate yourself. And that comes best if we go to God and allow him to inspire us. David did this in 1 Sam. 30:6 where it says, "He encouraged himself in God."

Bill continued by saying that we inspire others by living an inspired life in front of them. This is what Jesus did. This is what I want to do the rest of my life. To live such an inspiring life that it's contagious and others catch it and inspire others.

Inspiring others to follow Jesus Christ. That would be a great life mission.

Video clip similar to what we saw:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fast-growing county

According to www.SCIway.net, we live in a county that's exploding in growth. Check out this graph to see how fast Dorchester County is growing compared to the state and US.

Which just emphasizes our responsibility as good neighbors to reach out the thousands of residents (new and old) that we live near with the love of Jesus. I resolve to speak to people with as welcoming a manner as I can muster by the grace of God.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mission: Gulfport update


The last week of June this summer 22 youth and adults from Grace (non-denominational) joined our Baptist brothers and sisters-in-Christ from NC in Gulfport, MS to help build and rebuild houses wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. It was a great week for us as we got to serve those in great need showing them the love of Christ.

The article below gives a lot more detail about what we did (through another church's story). It was on the front page of the News and Observer (Raleigh newspaper) yesterday. You can view the article and a slide show on the link below. http://www.newsobserver.com/front/story/660774.html


Monday, August 06, 2007

Mission: Curacao

We are praying about partnering with our Christ-follower friends in Curacao long-term. That would include a trip down as soon as summer 2008.

I'm excited about this for our church family because it will help us keep a global perspective. We are still learning to do that locally, to be honest. But as hard as that is, it's even harder to do that globally. It's pretty hard to get emotionally behind people you've never met in a country you've never even heard of-much less ever been to.

So we're praying that God will send us there.

After our first interest meeting we had about 20 people seriously considering going-even at $1,000 each.

So we are praying and asking God what's next!

Check out the new blog on this mission.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Faith in Action

It was a good day at Grace.

Instead of worshiping as we normally do (welcome, 3 songs, praise time, message, offering), we met and spent the bulk of our time praying. That's right, praying.

We sought God today. We joined together in faith and asked God to show us what He wants us to do as a church.

And we are planning to follow too. That's cool.

I am expecting God to answer-in His own good time. I am a little afraid because He'll ask us to step out in faith (and that is often scary). I'm also excited because He'll ask us to step out in faith (and that is always exciting).

Way to go people of Grace! No doubt, God was pleased with you today.

"Without faith it is impossible to please God." Hebrews 11:6

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Desiring God Video of Freeway Bridge Collapse Aftermath


Dear Friends,

Many of you have seen the news of the Freeway Bridge collapse a mile from the Desiring God office. Our video team went down to the scene within hours. We have combined the footage with a sermon excerpt by John Piper. You can see the video at our blog.

If you think others might find it helpful please send them a link to the video.

You can also read John Piper's response "Putting My Daughter to Bed Two Hours After the Bridge Collapsed."

Thanks,
Lukas Naugle
Director of Resource Strategies

What's your next right step with God?

This 2 min. video clip (click title) expresses where I think we are in the life of our church. We are at the place where God is ready to lead us to live by faith. Will we follow? Do we trust Him to take us where He wants us to go? Will we risk failure to follow?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Chicken and Biscuits

If you've ever seen the movie The Prince of Egypt, or read any of Exodus in the Bible, you will remember that at the end of the movie (based on the Bible) that God miraculously opens up the Red Sea for all of Israel to cross over to escape the pursuing Egyptians. (No doubt the Egyptians are still smarting over that one) It's an amazing story of redemption and salvation.

What isn't as familiar is what happens next. As the Israelites begin life after slavery (a first for all of them but Moses), they quickly remember (and begin complaining about) that the desert doesn't have food and water in abundance-especially for several million people!

God has a solution for this, as usual. It's to provide what is later called manna. A small honey-flavored wafer, this manna would appear each morning to provide enough food for each person who took the time to gather it. Oh, and God provided Quail for meat each evening. I love chicken and biscuits too!

The reason I share it with you is that as I read this recently I saw something amazing. The LORD did all of this after they complained to Moses about it.

God showed His grace and mercy here. (no doubt in part because of Moses' prayer) He showed grace in giving them something they didn't deserve. (who wants to give a bratty kid a piece of candy who has complained all day about how cruel you are for not letting him eat any?)

God showed his mercy in not punishing them for their sin of complaining. In fact, the LORD made it clear that when they complained to Moses they were actually complaining about the LORD!

"The LORD will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him. Yes, your complaints are against the LORD, not against us (Moses, leaders)." Exodus 16:8 NLT (italics mine)

That hit me like never before. Whenever I complain about anything, it's like I'm in God's court, where He can hear everything I'm saying to my buddy, and I start complaining about all the troubles and trials and heartaches I'm dealing with right now.

Now I'm complaining in front of the all-powerful, all-good God. He is able to do anything He wants to. He is good so He wants to bless me (His child) more than the best father does. I'm not just complaining in front of God.

I'm complaining to God.

I deserve His rebuke and discipline. But if I learn anything from this passage in Exodus, it seems that God has (and will likely do it again) bless me with grace and mercy in spite of my self-centered complaining.

What's the antidote to complaining? Gratitude. I need to be more aware of God's blessings and thank Him for them all the time.

So I'm praying that God will help me be more thankful and not complain anymore. How about you?

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." --Apostle Paul, Phil 2:14-15 NIV