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Friday, December 26, 2008

We're All Here

One of my favorite authors is Mark Buchanan. I share this excerpt from one of his books I haven't yet read but anticipate greatly:


by Mark Buchanan
An excerpt from The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath

I made an astounding discovery several years back. It was one of those discoveries that, once made, you wonder why it took so long to make it. It was this: thankfulness is more than an act. It’s an orientation. It’s a way of seeing the world. Thankful people are thankful, not because they have more than others to be thankful for (in fact, people with much to be thankful for often go in the other direction, and become chronic complainers), but because they’ve chosen to be thankful. They choose to see their lives as a gift. They choose to see the transcendent in the ordinary. They choose to believe in a God who works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called to his purposes.

But let me illustrate. [finish]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve Service @ Sr. Center

 Christmas Eve is almost here and we're working hard to bring you a special Christmas Eve service that night at Grace Christian Fellowship. If you live in or near Summerville, I hope you and your family will join us.

In the meantime, while you are enjoying office parties, school parties and doing your last minute shopping, don't forget to invite people to join us! Looking for an invitation to print to hand out or share via email? Here's one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Earthquakes

Last Tuesday we had a little seismic activity in the Charleston area. It was around a 3.6 on the Richter scale. Anyway, as you'd expect, it was the buzz around town. 

Some people heard/felt it and were curious. Others (like us) felt the boom and were scared. It sounded like a huge piece of furniture fell over upstairs (on someone?!). Others said it sounded like a car ran into their building. And while many heard/felt it, others didn't even notice. 

It occurred to me that the birth of Christ was a seismic occurrence as well--albeit of biblical proportion. And, like our event, some noticed it and were afraid, others curious, and some missed it altogether.

Which are you? Do your eyes glaze over at the mention of the Christ-child? Perhaps you're losing Jesus in the chaos of shopping, sentiment and busyness.
Do you hear about the baby in a manager and find yourself curious but unengaged? Perhaps you have missed the implications of eternity apart from Christ.

Or maybe you are learning about Jesus and understand that He's coming back one day. This time, though, not as a baby but as a King. The King. And that He comes to judge those who believe they are good enough to get God to go to heaven on their own terms. I imagine that if that's you then you fear death. And well you should. After all, when you tell your own Creator that you don't trust Him and that you want to live your life on your own terms, it's got to be scary meeting Him face-to-face. 

The theme for Christmas is that you don't have to be afraid.

God sent His son Jesus to reconcile you to Himself. He has solved the problem of sin, if we'll just trust Him. He wants to forgive us (and we need that forgiveness because all of us have sinned against holy God). 

Will you humble yourself and trust Jesus today? Will you ask Him to forgive you for your sinful and self-centered attitudes and lifestyle? Will you surrender your life to Him and trust Him to lead you from here? He's awaits your humble request.


Receive the ultimate Christmas gift and you'll be giving one too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Resumes and football

On a lighter note, I got this from Joe Bryant on his "Random Shots" email, his weekly ramblings on the week's NFL trivia...

I love Mike Tomlin. Steelers RB Willie Parker made some comments after the game that the Steelers weren't running the ball enough. Tomlin handled it just right. "Every morning I come to work I walk past five Lombardis, not five rushing titles. The issue is winning." What can you say to that?

Reminded me of the story about Steve Spurrier when Florida was looking to hire a new coach a few years ago. Spurrier inquired about possibly coming back and the athletic director smugly told Spurrier that he'd have to submit a resume. The story goes that Spurrier told him to get up out of his chair, walk down the hall, and take a look at the trophy case. That's pretty good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bird Brain

Editors note: I wrote this June 7, 2006. dg

OK, so I'm sitting in my favorite booth at Atlanta Bread working on my laptop and I hear this thud on the window. Out of the corner of my eye I see enough to notice that a bird has just flown into the window. 

It reminded me of those hilarious Windex commercials where the birds keep flying into the oh-so-clean windows trying to get inside. (Yes, these windows had just been cleaned too) 

So I'm sitting here wondering what I can learn from this experience...

Seeing isn't always believing-or not seeing in this case. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't real. "You can't see the wind but you can see the effects of the wind" said Billy Graham on DC Talk's Jesus Freak CD. Meteorological instruments can measure the wind speed, moisture content and temperature even though our eyes do not see it.

Lessons: 

* Don't get too caught up in what you can see. Live in light of eternity. 

* You can't always see what's most real. This is similar to the last one. We tend to think what's most real is what's most visible. The bible teaches that what's most real is actually what we can't see...yet. CS Lewis calls this world the "Shadowlands". The bird learned that lesson the hard way. 

* Watch where you're going mister! OK, so I'm venting my driving pet peeves a little. People can't drive around here!

But seriously, we need to watch because it matters where you're going. You may be moving through life at a quick clip, but you may be heading the wrong way on a road with the bridge ahead out of commission. Open your eyes. In fact, ask God to open your eyes. You may be surprised at what you end up seeing.

* Seeing and seeing aren't always a package deal. Just because you have 20/20 vision doesn't mean you can see what really matters or lasts. The birds have working eyes. But they are not good enough to see clean glass apparently.

The bible says that our eyes are not good enough to see spiritual truth either--unless God enables us to. Pray that God would open your spiritual eyes to allow you to see what is true-clearly. 

* We can get so focused on what we're looking for that we miss what's right in front of us and what is most important. (I can't see the forest for the trees kind-a-thing) I don't know what that bird was so focused on (maybe my pastrami sandwich) but he was on a mission to satisfy himself. Mission NOT accomplished! (pass the Advil)

We can get so focused on pursuing what we think will make us happiest that we miss true joy and happiness. Life apart from God will always be inferior to true joy and happiness found in Christ. Don't let the eye candy of this world tempt you to fall for it either.

What's the best way to see well? Stay close and stay clean.

Stay close to God and his word and let him know when you mess up. As you confess your sin and turn away from it, God cleanses you from all unrighteousness. He sees you as if you've never sinned. That's cool...clearly.

Revenge of the birds

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God never gives up on me!

Someone shared this cool reminder this week. (thanks Linda) Rest in the truth that God never gives up on those who trust Him...

From Linda: I am sending you something I read about Meeting the God of Encouragement. It really is appropriate for the challenges of today with all of us in the Body of Christ. When times are so uncertain and promises are broken God never gives up on us.
 
Throughout time, though God's people often forgot their God, God didn't forget them. He kept His word. God didn't give up. He never gives up. 

When Joseph was dropped into a pit by his own brothers, God didn't give up. When Moses said,"Here I am, send Aaron," God didn't give up. When the delivered Israelites wanted Egyptian slavery instead of milk and honey, God didn't give up. When Aaron  was making a false god at the very moment Moses was with the true God, God didn't give up. When only two of the ten spies thought the Creator was powerful enough to deliver the created, God didn't give up. When Sampson whispered to Delilah, when Saul roared after David, when David schemed against Uriah, God didn't give up. When God's word lay forgotten and man's idols stood glistening, God didn't give up. When the children of Israel were taken into captivity God didn't give up. He could have given up. He could have turned His back. He could have walked away from the wretched mess, but He didn't. He didn't give up.

When He became flesh and was the victim of an assassination attempt before He was 2 years old, He didn't give up. When the people from His own home town tried to push Him over a cliff, He didn't give up.
When His brothers ridiculed Him, He didn't give up. When He was accused of blaspheming God by people who didn't fear God, He didn't give up. When Peter worshipped Him at the supper and cursed Him at the fire, He didn't give up. When people spat in his face,He didn't spit back. When the bystanders slapped Him, He didn't slap them.When a whip ripped His sides, He didn't turn and command the awaiting angels to stuff that whip down that soldier's throat. And when human hands fastened the divine hands to a cross with spikes, it wasn't the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus steady. It was God who held them steady. For those wounded hands were the same invisible hands that had carried the fire pot and the torch 2000 years earlier. They were the same hands that had brought light to Abram's thick and dreadful darkness. They had come to do it again.

So, the next time doubt walks in, escort him out. Out to the hill. Out to Calvary, Out to the cross where, with the holy blood, the hand that carried the flame wrote the promise," God would give up His only son, before he'd give up on you."
 
How encouraging it is to know that God is constant in His promise to remain. This is encouraging to me when mothers are burying their children,when one spouse says "I Quit" when employers say "don't come back" .When the bank says,"You must vacate."  God says, "I will NEVER leave you or forake you.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Books & DVDs: 40 Days of Community available

If you are looking for large numbers of the devotional/study guide books from 40 Days of Community, just give us a call. This is the blue version that has both the 40 devotionals plus the study guide for the small groups bound together. Now when you buy them, you have to buy them separately. We have about 50 (some new, some used). 

We also have about 20 DVDs (brand new).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Joy is being free!

Joy is being free. Why? Because Jesus came to set us free. Free from what? Free from sin and death.

Just like Moses was sent to Egypt to set the nation of Israel free from Egyptian slavery, Jesus was sent to set all people free from the slavery of sin.

Jesus means "The Lord saves." The angel said to Joseph, "She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

How does that happen? First, somebody has to take the punishment for sin. Jesus did that on the cross where he died for my sin and yours. As a result, God the Father can now show mercy and forgive sinners who bank on what Jesus did on the cross for them. When I accept the infinitely gracious act of Jesus' death in my place, I become a child of God. I receive forgiveness and lose guilt. I am set free from sin and death!

And that's why we celebrate Christmas. Because the baby who was born to die came down. God himself putting on flesh; the Creator mingling among his creation to share this message of hope that leads to joy that changes everything.

May we embrace this joy and become ambassadors of joy to all people.

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Christmas List

Ah, Christmas shopping. So much fun...the crowds, the expense, the time, the crowds, the wrapping, the rush, the crowds...oh, but isn't it worth it. I mean you get to give! And isn't that what it's all about, anyway? Yes, indeed!

Well for those trying to figure out what to get the Gabriel's for Christmas this year, we're offering a little help. Now if you've already taken care of this, I'm sure you did great. No worries here. But if you're truly stumped trying to find that perfect gift, here's the help you're looking for.

Now I warn you, our Christmas list is a bit unusual this year. But it's simple, really. We want your gifts to us to be relational gifts. That is, gifts that took more time and less money. We want you to spend less on us so you can spend some on others who are truly in need.

Now we're not saying you can't buy us a gift. After all, that's giving too. But we're thinking, it's Jesus' birthday we're celebrating, right? Shouldn't he be the one getting at least some of the presents?

Now how do you give presents to Jesus? You give to the least, the last and the lost of our world. Those in great need.

Matthew 25:40
(Jesus said) "'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the 
least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
Matthew 25:39-41 (in Context)

It would have been pretty weird if the 3 wise men had shown up to see little Jesus and then started giving their gifts to each other instead of the one they had just traveled hundreds of miles to see. So we're just trying to be a little more about giving gifts to Jesus and less for us. 

Did you know that Americans spend $450 Billion a year just on Christmas?

Did you know that the lack of clean water kills more people every day than anything? And here's the think. They estimate it will take just $10 Billion to make clean water accessible to everybody in the world. $450 or $10? I'm just saying...

Jesus said, "It's more blessed to give than to receive." Well, if that's true (I believe it is) then the most blessed gift you could give us would be to give our gift to someone else for us. Especially if that person is in need.

We're not saying it's wrong to give gifts to each other. As I said, we're still going to do that. We're just going to cut back and take the extra and give it to Jesus. 

So we have several options for you to consider.

Here are 2 websites that have catalogues designed to help you give in this way. Just pick something out you'd like to give to someone else in need and give it. Then when we gather for Christmas, just share with us what you did. It can be for each of us or one for the whole family. We'd be thrilled with that!

World Vision  I especially like gifts that relate to giving animals or clean water (the basics of life).

Samaritan's Purse  Stocking a fish pond seems like a cool idea here too. But they have lots of options just like World Vision. 

Both are reputable, world-wide Christian ministries that are committed to both making poverty history and sharing the truth that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. 

Another thought in giving gifts this year is to give something relationally. Give your time. 

You remember those cheesy things you made as a child and then proudly gave to your parents? Well those gifts are precious. They aren't valuable, right? No, but they are precious because you made them. You took the time to make them.

Or why not just give of your time. You can give homemade coupons of things you can do for others. Wash their car. Iron some clothes. Have them over for dinner. It doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant. Just so it includes you!

We are actually challenging our whole church to do this. So we as a family will be giving gifts this way. We are calling it the Advent Conspiracy. You can learn more about where the idea came from here.

So, perhaps not the list you were looking for, but hopefully helpful none-the-less.

Merry CHRISTmas and Happy Birthday, Jesus!

The Gabriel's

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for Fleas

Thanks to James Emery White for reminding us of this terrific story of God's perspective on the difficulties and trials of life.

Thankful for the Fleas

The barracks where Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were kept in the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck were terribly overcrowded and flea-infested.

They had been able to miraculously smuggle a Bible into the camp, and in that Bible they had read that in all things there were to give thanks, and that God can use anything for good.

Corrie’s sister Betsy decided that this meant thanking God for the fleas.

This was too much for Corrie, who said she could do no such thing. Betsy insisted, so Corrie gave in and prayed to God, thanking Him even for the fleas.

Over the next several months a wonderful, but curious, thing happened. They found that the guards never entered their barracks. This meant that women were not assaulted. It also meant that they were able to do the unthinkable, which was to hold open Bible studies and prayer meetings in the heart of a Nazi concentration camp.

Through this, countless numbers of women came to faith in Christ.

Only at the end did they discover why the guards had left them alone and would not enter into their barracks.

It was because of the fleas.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks to God for every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), but also thank Him for how He will use all things for good in the lives of those who trust Him (Romans 8:28).

In this time of falling stock prices and rising unemployment; in a time when many are facing physical and emotional challenges; there can be little doubt that such a trusting prayer of gratitude will be challenging to offer.

But then take a moment, and remember the fleas of Ravensbruck.

And thank God anyway.  James Emery White

Sources: Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You Have Our Attention

Are you more anxious than normal these days? Are you wondering what in the world is going on? This prayer for our nation by Max Lucado is so fitting for us today. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Share Faith using HSM?

Share Your Faith Using "High School Musical"

The online newspaper The Christian Post offers ideas for sharing your faith using "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." More info.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Free Audio Bible

No-Cost Audio Bible for Blogs and Websites
Faith Comes by Hearing (FCBH) has just made it possible to send the Bible around the world at no cost. Bloggers, webmasters, and social network users will now be able to spread the gospel in audio using sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Digg, and Reddit. FCBH has developed an Audio Bible widget that can be placed on websites, blogs, or social networking profiles, allowing visitors to sample any of nearly 300 Audio New Testaments in FCBH's collection. Users can then select and download a free Audio Bible. More info.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My daughter made me cry

My daughter made me cry.

I was a younger father then. I know, it's not a good excuse. I had yelled at my daughter (maybe 4 at the time) for disobeying or not doing what I told her or something like that. You know, normal stuff. Life. She dropped her head and walked away dejected that she had failed daddy. I let her go, wrongly thinking I was being the good disciplinarian. Even more disturbingly, I didn't remind her that regardless of her behavior, I loved her. I withheld unconditional love. 

Meanwhile, I'm preparing to preach my first sermon ever in church. Big church. You know, not just our youth but their parents (and grandparents). Oh, and the sermon was on James 3: Watching your tongue.

So as tends to happen in my sermon preparation, God took me to the woodshed. 

You know where the woodshed is, don't you? It's that place where kids' parents used to take them to find a suitable instrument for a proper spanking. You know, the "Board of Education."

Well, God took me there in His own way. I felt awful for how I'd handled that situation. So I went to my daughter and apologized. Yep, my 4 year old heard her father say he was sorry for speaking so harshly to her and not reminding her that he loved her no matter what. 

You know what she said? "It's okay, Daddy!" We hugged. I cried.

Even now my eyes water as I remember such grace dispensed on my behalf. I went hoping to teach her, and instead God--through my child--taught me grace. 

So the first lesson is simple: Discipline your children under a canopy of unconditional love. 

The second lesson is simple too: When you don't, apologize. 

The third lesson may be unexpected though: Stories of God's grace are powerful. Even my own story brought tears to my eyes and a new resolve to dispense grace at every opportunity. 

Just think. If we don't share stories of how God is at work in our lives (in big and small ways), others miss a touch from God. So tell your stories. Regularly.

You have many opportunities to share your stories. Work, dinner table, bed time, carpool, and phone calls. But here are 2 more that can have a wider impact:

1. Sharing "My Story" of how you've seen God work (in you, through you, in or through others) during 40 Days of Community. We'll share some of these at our Celebration Service next Sun. (in 6 days)

2. Sharing how God has been at work in, around and through you since last Thanksgiving at our Thanksgiving Celebration service Tue., Nov. 25th. (in 8 days)

If God can use me to touch you through this little story of God's grace, then why can't he use you and your stories too? He can! The only thing stopping Him is you sharing them. Start by leaving a comment here or by emailing Darien or calling Darien today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Web Ministry opps

I love ministry on the web. 

I love networking with people who love Jesus and who can do cool ministry on the web. 

You too?

Maybe you and I should work together?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Having a Tough Day?

Having a tough day? Well, you're problems just got smaller. Check this out:


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Huckabee's Response to Election

Here's a quote from Mike Huckabee after the election:

Politics is not an event but a process. We sometimes lose the events but it never gives us the right to stop being faithful to our principles that enlisted us in the process. We shall live to fight another day. 

I love this perspective because it keeps us mindful of the war over the battles we win or lose. I found this whole post helpful. Thanks Huck!

Another post that was helpful was this one. Thanks John!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

God and Big Rocks

The question of skeptics of God (agnostics, atheists) these days seems to be:
Can God create a rock so big He can't lift it. 
The point being that if He can, then He isn't all-powerful. If He can't, then He's not all-powerful. Either way, He turns out not being the all-powerful God of the Bible. Score-1 for the skeptic. 

Not so fast.

I used to answer this question with a wimpy, "Well, if it could be done, God could do it." I was unwilling to say God could or couldn't. And while I believe God can do anything He wants, I also believe, He always acts in accordance with His character (which excludes nonsensical things like creating rocks you can't lift to humor a skeptic).

However, I believe I now have an answer this question. My answer is, 

Yes, God can create a rock that's too big for Him to lift. And at the same time, it doesn't make Him impotent. In fact, He's already done it.

Here's how it goes:

God is one but is made up of 3 persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We call this the Trinity. The point here is that Jesus is God.

God (includes Jesus, remember) created the world. That would include all the rocks on the planet, by the way.

Then God came down as Jesus, took on flesh, set aside His glory and much of His power in becoming human (while maintaining all of His deity). This includes limiting His physical strength. (Phil 2:7)

And there were rocks in and around Judea and Samaria that Jesus (remember, He's God) couldn't lift.

Hence, God created rocks so big that He couldn't lift. Yet He remains the all-powerful God that He is in the Bible. 

So while this won't satisfy a skeptic, it satisfies me. Because I can logically answer the skeptic with an answer that doesn't minimize God at all. And now I don't have to wonder if the skeptic's nonsensical question has any legitimacy--because it doesn't.

What do you think about the answer?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Christmas can [still] change the world

 Enter the Story
Christmas can [still] change the world.
 

The story of Christ's birth is a subversive story of an upside-down kingdom. It's a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love that is still changing the world to this day. So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists. And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling that we somehow missed its purpose.

Is this what we really want out of Christmas? [more]

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Is the church necessary today?

Bob Roberts writes about the early church in Acts when he says,

"So many followed Christ that the church was necessary. How's that for church planting? The church was planted not to do evangelism, but because so much evangelism was happening!"

What do you think about that? Does that sound foreign or unusual to you? Why or why not?

Check out his latest project.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Gift for the Church from a church

Lifechurch.tv once again unviels a gift for the church. They're latest gift is called ChurchMetrics.com and helps churches track basic numbers using online techonology-for free. Check it out today!

I applaud Craig Groeschel's example as a pastor of a very successful church that is willing to share (instead of sell) their tools. That kind of generosity exemplifies the love of Christ wonderfully!

"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." -Jesus

Dear Mr. President...

Dear Mr. President to be:

While I realize you haven't been elected yet and therefore I don't know who you'll be, I can still write to you.

First, know that no matter who wins, I'm going to be praying for you.

Second, know that no matter who wins, God put you there. (That doesn't mean you're a good choice, by the way. See Romans 13)

Third, remember that your primary responsibility as our leader is to protect us. Us is everyone. But it's especially those who are not able to protect themselves. The elderly, children, the ill and disabled, the unborn and the weak. It's also to protect families. And it's to protect our society from chaos and injustice. 

Oh, and if you're going to lead like Jesus would (not taking that one for granted, by the way), you might want to be a servant. 

We have our part to play as citizens too. We're to pray and be model citizens. At least as Christ followers we are. 

So here's one prayer to get me started:

"Father, we lift up our nation and our leaders to you right now. We pray that you'll move us to humble ourselves and follow Your will and Your ways. We pray for humble leaders at all levels of government. We pray for Your mercy as we try to get back on track spiritually. Thank you for Your grace and mercy this far. Revive Your people even now and turn our hearts back to You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen."

For an online community committed to praying for our leaders that is both non-political and non-partisan, see www.presidentialprayerteam.org.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Grieve with those who grieve

G---- and A---- are friends of ours and missionaries in East Asia. As you can imagine, there are many sacrifices that go with living literally half way around the world from your family. Anyway, one of those is not being able to attend the funeral of a dear loved one. 

A---- lost her grandmother recently and is mourning her from a distance. Join me in praying for her and leaving her a comment on her blog. After all, isn't that what we as the Body of Christ do for one another? So you don't half to know her to mourn with her long enough to leave her a comment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2-Way Communication

In the book Follow Me, the author writes about spiritual growth,

It makes sense that increasing the frequency of time and energy spent in communication with God pays off in an increasingly intimate relationship with him. But what is more subtle, and perhaps more significant, is the increasing two-way nature of the relationship. It's not just talking to God that's important; it's also listening to God and receiving answers to prayer that is vital. It's not just reading the Bible that spurs spiritual growth; it is reflecting on the meaning of Scripture in a way that changes how a person thinks and lives that proves most significant.

Their point is that while early in our walk we tend to just talk to God and admire Him from afar, growth in Christ results in and is caused by a growing relational intimacy with God through the spiritual disciplines of prayer & reflection on Scripture. 

So how would you describe your time with God each week? Is it more distant and passive or intimate and active?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why blog?

www.Wikipedia.org defines a blog as:

blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

While I don't believe blogging is for everybody, I do think that many more could and should. After all, most of us want to make a real difference in our world. One way to do that is with our words and ideas. Where else can you write something and within minutes make it accessible to billions of people for free? Talk about exchanging and sharing ideas freely!

How do I do it? Simply put, find a free blog hosting website (mine are on www.blogger.com), setup your free site (it's quick and easy) and start writing. Don't worry about being profound. Just be real. Below are some tips from one of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin, to get you started. Blog on!

How to write a blog post

Do it like this: Joel on Software.

An appropriate illustration,
A useful topic, easily broadened to be useful to a large number of readers,
Simple language with no useless jargon,
Not too long,
Focusing on something that people have previously taken for granted,
That initially creates emotional resistance,
Then causes a light bulb go go off
and finally,
Causes the reader to look at the world differently all day long.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Innie or an Outie?

Should we focus outward or inward?

It's easy to find articles today on how inwardly focused most churches are. The truth is that we tend to drift that way. However, outward focused churches can neglect legitimate needs within the church. Obviously we'd like to be balanced: caring for people inwardly and outwardly. Most of us don't want to intentionally neglect anybody.

So what's the answer? I think it comes down to this: Are you walking with Christ. If you are, you'll know when to focus outwardly and when to look inwardly. The truth is that we're probably supposed to live through seasons of inward focus and outward emphasis. The only way to know when to do what is to find yourself faithfully walking with Christ. Check this out:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, October 24, 2008

Add-ons or Major Elements?

Are small groups something we add-on to our church? Check out this link above.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Divine Nobodies

In his book Divine NobodiesJim Palmer writes a refreshing look at how God reveals Himself through ordinary people ("Nobodies") every day if we'll just pay attention. His goal is to "Shed religion to find God" and he does a pretty good job of communicating this to his readers. 

I found myself challenged to think from the other side on several issues.

The page I dog-eared includes the following paragraph:

Sitting in 13D, I uncovered something unsettling about myself. I don't really want a "relationship" with God. Here's what I want. I want to share with God all I feel, all I need, all that grieves me, all that makes me happy, the puzzling things, the fun things, and the hard things, but I would prefer that God keep his stuff to himself. I don't want to hear about his pain and share in his grief. I don't mind listening to God as long as I'm receiving solutions, answers, and advice. Maybe what I really want is a divine vending machine: pop in my prayer, press the button for my need, and I'm good to go. A professional live-in massage therapist and a Starbucks within walking distance would be nice too.

Where this hit me was I would prefer that God keep his stuff to himself. In other words, I don't want to know or hear about Your grief over enslaved child prostitution or orphans in other countries. I don't want to hear God's cry for the lost or that His people would turn back to Him in repentance. I don't want to know about how His heart breaks when His children (the Church) fight with each other instead of "love one another."

No, I just want to hear His solutions, answers, and advice

This was worth the book alone. But read the rest. I imagine you'll find your own paragraph to blog about. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dobson And Palin

The following tells you why you might want to listen to this interview with Gov. Palin today on Focus on the Family. Gary writes:

COUNTDOWN TO NOVEMBER 4TH: 13 DAYS TO ELECTION DAY 


Dobson And Palin 

Governor Sarah Palin was on Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio broadcast this morning. I strongly urge all of you to listen to this interview. 

They talked about the incredibly hostile media...her deep and abiding faith...and the tremendous pro-life witness that she and her family are to the entire nation. 

Listening to this broadcast was extremely encouraging, and it reaffirmed why I am in this battle. I also have to again thank Senator McCain for his outstanding selection of a running mate...

Please make every effort to listen to this interview on the radio or online, and share this message with friends and family. To find stations listings in your area or to listen online, click here

Bridge Run 2009


To the 2009 Cooper River Bridge Run & Walk. This years run is April 4th 2009 and our Expo is April 2nd and 3rd at the Galliard Auditorium.

Have you started training yet? It's time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fireproof the Movie

This is a must-see movie if you're married. Make it a date night this week! 


Fireproof
 - Trailer - Add movie showtimes to iGoogle
‎2hr 2min‎ - ‎Rated PG‎ - ‎Drama‎ 
 
 Remember this location

Monday, October 20, 2008

TAD Time?

I've always been a proponent of TAG time (Time Alone with God). But lately I've been examining mine and have found it wanting. Instead, I think I've had TAD time. (Time Alone with Devotionals)

Doing a daily devotional is a great spiritual habit/discipline. It is part of my "Training regimen" each day where I discipline myself for godliness so that I'll more naturally (or supernaturally, rather) do what Jesus would do if he were in my shoes. But if we're not careful, we can miss the point. I was.

You see, Jesus spent time with his Father--not a devotional book. Mark 1:35 says, 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

He didn't get up early to read his Oswald Chambers devotion. (they're good, by the way) He got up to fellowship with his Father.

So the question remains: Am I doing my devotions or am I meeting with God? 

If you're struggling with this, I recommend the following:

* Try using nothing but your Bible during your time alone with God.
* Don't try to read too much in one sitting. 
* Pray back to God what you believe the Scripture you just read says. Make it your words back to God.
* Ask God to help you live it out today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is God responsible for our bad economy?

In light of our economy in recent days, this verse is insightful:

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. --King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 7:14 NLT

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trailer is here!

 We picked up our new trailer Mon. We'll organize the trailer moving our stuff over from the old trailer Friday at 10 AM at Terry Fletcher's house (109 Rookery Ct next to Summerville Airport)

Other items that came with the trailer include puppets and stage, 7 rolling cabinets, tripod for projector, lots of preschool toys and equipment, & wide-screen TV & DVD. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Obama & Infants

The number one job of our governing authorities is to protect society from anarchy and evil. (Romans 13) The Bible exhorts us to defend the defenseless in society. The unborn are clearly defenseless. I'm simply pointing out Obama's position so you can determine if you think he'll protect life.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Catalyst-first day

Here are a few nuggets from my first day at Catalyst with Brad, Brian and Jan...

For a leader to maintain moral authority, there must be alignment between what a leader says and what he or she does.  --Andy Stanley

"You prioritize the role no one else can play over the role someone else can play." --Andy Stanley

"There's a relationship between Father-Son-Holy Spirit and we're invited into that." --William Paul Young, author of The Shack.

"Good is the enemy of great." --Jim Collins

Jim also said that based on all their research, the signature characteristic of a Level 5 (top) leader is humility. Gee, I could have saved his research a lot of time and they'd be up a Bible too.

A couple other things from Jim...

"We don't have jobs & titles. We have responsibilities."

"If you have more than 3 priorities, you have no priority."

No great quotes from Steven Furtick but he was terrific. Lots of passion, energy and a challenging message that we took to heart. He'll be back. Preached on the space in life between God's promise to us and the payoff of when it comes to pass.

In talking about Acts 1:8, Brenda McNeil described Samaria well when she said, "(It's) hostile to us; we're reluctant to go there. We don't understand the people in Samaria; we're uncomfortable; they don't get our jokes. We'd take the freeway to avoid them." Yep, that's how I feel about my Samaria. Nailed me.

Seth Godin talked about Tribes and gave all 12,000 of us a copy of his latest book. Now that's what I call building your tribe. Who's my tribe? After my family, it's the core group of leaders at Grace. Those who give and serve faithfully and sacrificially. You know who you are!

Craig Groeschel challenged us with checking our hearts to see if we still have "it". What's it? Well, he said he couldn't really tell us but that the Holy Spirit was a big part of it--just not all of it.

My brain feels full so I'm going to bed.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Catalyst bound!

I'll be heading to Catalyst today and will be blogging about it in the coming days. If you think about it, pray I'll hear through all the noise just what God wants me to hear.

Monday, October 06, 2008

8 in 08 Review

The Advent Conspiracy was just 1 of 8 goals we had at Grace Christian Fellowship for 2008. You'll be hearing more about the Advent Conspiracy in the coming weeks and months as we finish 2008 strong. Let's see how we did with the rest:

1. Invest in Leaders. This past Sunday we voted in our first ever Deacons and their wives. This adds much needed leadership in our ministry to families where there are gaps in the family support system. These couples will bring much needed energy and resources to the fight for those in crisis. Elders will follow once we get some time equipping our new Deacons and their wives.

We also taught our first Discovery your SHAPE class which deals with discovering your gifts and letting that lead to where you are gifted to serve. 

This week 4 of us will go to the Catalyst leadership conference in Atlanta.

2. Easter Outreach. While we had a good turnout for Easter, we did not organize a special outreach for that day.

3. Be a lighthouse. We challenged our people to take on the lighthouse challenge: Prayer-Care-Share strategy. We did not resource our people on this like we needed to.

4. Train to Remain. We trained our entire church family over more than 16 weeks by preaching through the Book of Romans.

5. Master Planning. Any day we expect to get our first draft of our new master plan for the property from our architect. 

6. Mission: Curacao. Not only did we go, we are planning to go back! We took 13 people and have 19 ready to go next summer.

7. 40 Days of Community. We kicked-off 40 Days of Community on Sunday and it begins Oct. 12th.

8. Advent Conspiracy. We will hear from Gene & Doris Hundley as we learn to give Christmas gifts to...well, Jesus, for His birthday. Video explanation 

Friday, October 03, 2008

ICE: In Case of Emergency

Have you ever wondered what the paramedics would do if they found you at the scene of an accident unconscious, without an ID (stolen?) but still with your cell phone? Perhaps they should call someone in your phone address book. But wait, if you're like me you have dozens of numbers. Your emergency contact is not obvious to an EMT. Who should they call?

Based on a recent email I received, let me recommend you create a new contact in you phone called 'ICE' (In Case of Emergency). I understand this is becoming standard operating procedure for many paramedics. Whether it is or not, if enough people do this many will think to check should the need arise.

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.

On a slightly related note, here is what came up when I googled "Incaseofemergency": http://www.readybooks.us

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Fleecing of the American Taxpayer

Another view point that also makes a lot of sense. No wonder people don't know what's the best thing to do. Pray people. Pray! dg

The Fleecing of the American Taxpayer

Dear Huck PAC family,

I ask 2 things of you right now: [more]

Economic Rescue Or Bust

Finally! An explanation I can follow and that makes sense. Check this out from Gary Bauer:

Almost all the day’s news is focused on the economic turmoil and Washington’s reaction to President Bush’s proposed economic rescue package. You may have noticed that I am referring to the plan as a “rescue package” and not a bailout. I happen to agree with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch who said this morning that this is not a bailout, but a rescue plan – not for Wall Street – but for Main Street. Let me explain.

What the government is really doing is buying assets, not debts. Many of the “debt obligations” on Wall Street are mortgages in default. But there are real homes, physical assets attached to these mortgages or “debt obligations.” As the president said, the government can buy them now and sell them later, quite likely at a profit. Here are some excerpts of his remarks:

“…in today’s mortgage industry, home loans are often packaged together, and converted into financial products called ‘mortgage-backed securities.’ These securities were sold to investors around the world.

“…as markets have lost confidence in mortgage-backed securities, their prices have dropped sharply. Yet the value of many of these assets will likely be higher than their current price, because the vast majority of Americans will ultimately pay off their mortgages.

“The government is the one institution with the patience and resources to buy these assets at their current low prices and hold them until markets return to normal. And when that happens, money will flow back to the Treasury as these assets are sold. And we expect that much, if not all, of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.”

Right now there are many Americans who are worried about their home values. In some cases, their mortgages are more than the current value of their homes. They look at this plan and don’t see how this helps them. (It is worth repeating here that the government passed a $300 billion housing relief bill in July.) Many people think all the money is going to fat cats on Wall Street. But the fact is a good bit of the American economy runs on what is called commercial paper.

Virtually any large enterprise – from the companies that make tractors used on farms and trucking companies to big grocery store chains – occasionally has a need for short term loans, often just overnight, to meet cash flow needs. Because of the toxic mortgages currently owned by banks and investment institutions, our credit system is locking up. It is being exacerbated by obscure accounting rules that force banks to devalue mortgage assets, thereby limiting their ability to loan money, as their ability to loan money is linked to the value of their assets. This has turned into a vicious cycle that is threatening to spiral out of control without immediate intervention.

Last week, experts in business and government that I talked to told me we were at one point less than an hour away from a total freeze of our entire credit system. If that happens, a tremendous amount of commerce in our country will grind to a halt. And that will impact you no matter what you do. If you are engaged in any kind of economic activity, you will be affected.

Let me repeat – this plan is not a bailout for Wall Street. It is a rescue plan for Main Street.

My friends, I am a capitalist. I despise Big Government. There is plenty of blame to go around and government deserves a lot of it. But every nation, like every family, occasionally has emergencies, and this is an emergency. We need solutions now. It is right for Congress to try to improve the president’s rescue package. It is right to demand transparency in the administration of this tremendous effort. But if partisanship ends up preventing this rescue from passing, the consequences will cost all of us far more than the current price tag.

I'm joining the Advent Conspiracy


[AC] Advent Conspiracy from Jon Collins on Vimeo.

[AC] Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by worshipping Jesus through compassion, not consumption.

Because Christmas can (still) change the world.

Join my family, my church and I as we join the Advent Conspiracy this Christmas season. Let's take back the story of Christmas and share it again for the first time. Let's worship, give and love like never before. Let's actually give Jesus the birthday presents He alone deserves. Wow. What a concept. Let's go for it!

Darien

Find out more at adventconspiracy.org
Publish Post

Unity, Liberty & Charity

Church unity. For some, that's an oxymoron. It doesn't have to be.

St. Paul gives us clear guidance on when we are to work for unity and when we can allow liberty with our brothers and sisters in Christ. That's found in Romans 14.

St. Augustine summarizes that chapter nicely,

In essentials unity; 
In non-essentials liberty;
In all things charity (love).

Challenge: Read Romans 14 and ask God to show you what nonessential in church you're treating as an essential. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

See You at the Pole at Rollings MS

This year Jennifer is our first daughter attending a public school. Here is a pick of her and her friends praying at the flagpole for See You at the Pole (www.syatp.com) today. It was special to see her there and wanting to be there. She's in the purple shaw.
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Pray the Vote

From: The Presidential Prayer Team www.presidentialprayerteam.org

Join the over 27,400 other intercessors who have made 40 Days to Pray the Vote a daily and vital part of their prayer lives. With 40 Days to Pray the Vote you can:

  • Pray for the elections in a systematic and orderly way, starting with worship of our mighty God and moving to issues and concerns of the election.
  • Pray for issues and concerns that might not occur to you or others.
  • Post your comments or prayers on a new 40 Days to Pray the Vote Prayer Wall.
  • Tell others about this exciting prayer initiative.
  • View a sample of 40 Days to Pray the Vote HERE.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Register to Vote ASAP

Please take a few moments to make sure you and all your friends and family members are registered to vote. If you are not, or if anyone you know is not registered, please click this link to sign up today. Voter registration deadlines are approaching fast – October 6th in most states – so please act now! 

For more on the importance of voting, please read Gary Bauer's weekly column at www.humanevents.com

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