Sunday, January 27, 2008

Black Hole

Image: Black hole attack

This composite image shows the jet from a black hole at the center of a galaxy, at left, striking the edge of another galaxy. The image combines X-ray emissions seen by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (purple), optical and ultraviolet data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red and orange) and radio emissions from the Very Large Array and the MERLIN array (blue).

Friday, January 25, 2008

EchoPrayer.com Rocks!

Echo is a tool to help you pray more diligently. Pray for your coworkers, your friends, your family, your church, your country, your issues. And thank God continually.

To learn more, see What is Echo? or read about Echo's purpose. If you're a visual person, watch the demo movie or jump right in and SIGN UP NOW!

I get an automated email from echo prayer every week day at noon to pray for a specific prayer request. It helps me remember to go to God with everything.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Youth Provide Hope

I thought this was a great post by Gary Bauer:

With all the turmoil in the world – declining financial markets, terrorism, etc., – it is easy to get depressed some days. But if you want a little encouragement, just consider this headline from today’s Washington Post: “A Youthful Throng Marches Against Abortion.”

As we have noted before, the youth of America are increasingly pro-life, and today even the Washington Post was forced to concede that this year’s annual March for Life was comprised of thousands upon thousands of young people. They don’t read the New York Times or Supreme Court briefs or automatically accept as fact every rant they are forced to endure from
left wing professors.

Instead, they instinctively understand the inherent moral issue involved with abortion. Many carried signs reading, “Give Life, Don’t Take It,” and “Your Mother Was Pro-Life.” One 17-year-old student told a Post reporter, “It’s illegal to kill someone walking down the street, so it should be illegal to kill someone in the womb.”

These kids get it! Soon they will be adults voting for candidates and seeking public office themselves.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Spider Cookies

I saw this picture and did a double-take. Are those spiders in that cookie?! At first glance this cookie looked good enough to eat...

Leaders can be like that too. At first glance, they can look pretty good. But God looks beneath the surface to see what a leader is really made of.

"And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them." Psalm 78:72 NIV

"Integrity of heart" and "skillful hands" are two great ingredients in a leader. What a beautiful life-summary. How do you want to be remembered? How about as someone who followed God while leading others to follow God with you?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Leaning Forward '08 Pt 6: Curacao

Curacao. (the Church) Going this summer will be the primary means of accomplishing this in '08.

However, in an effort to establish a meaningful and lasting partnership, it is our desire to take this mission to the next level. That means investing more time and money into work that is clearly being led of God by the locals there.

Our pre-trip and trip down this year will determine the potential scope of this effort. It could include inviting the people of Curacao to help us invest in an unreached people group somewhere else in the world.

As a part of our global effort, we’d continue to support missionaries in Thailand, East Asia and Kazakhstan. Remember, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision are other partners as well.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Leaning Forward '08 Pt 5: Master Planning

Master Planning our campus. (our church) This campaign is potentially a 3-year effort to raise capital to equip our church with tools beyond what our general finances covers.

It covers primarily Phase 1: a multi-purpose facility we can worship in and have classes for preschoolers and children (along with other potential ministry uses).

However, it could also include a commitment to global projects such as a community center in Curacao, translating the NT for an unreached people group, or clean water wells in Africa.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Leaning Forward '08 Pt 4: Training to Remain

·  Training in the Word. (individual) Continuing to remind our people to, “Train to remain,” we will teach through the book of Romans this year. We will incorporate scripture memory and Bible reading plans more intentionally to further encourage our people to fuel their faith with God’s word.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Leaning Forward '08 Pt 3: Be a lighthouse

· Lighthouse Movement. (our family) Building on our theme from last year (Main Thing-Mission), we are continuing to challenge our families to reach out to their neighbors. Using the strategy Pray-Care-Share, we’ll see our people intentionally and regularly praying for their neighbors (by name and address), caring for them as needs arise, and eventually sharing Christ with them when the door opens. We need to not just go to church but be the church. Some of these will result in neighborhood Home Groups. Imagine the impact we can have in our neighborhoods.

UnChristian-good or bad book?

Check out this short interview with Christian and author Gabe Lyons.

Leaning Forward '08 Pt 2: Easter Outreach

Easter Outreach. (our church) Easter is a huge outreach opportunity in our area. Creating a special worship service plus supporting special events will go a long way in helping us reach out to those who aren’t connected to a local church. Elements could include:

o Special guest or artist

o Day of serving Summerville the day before Easter

o Easter Egg hunts in area neighborhoods using "Resurrection Eggs" or the like

o Special event for residents of Sr. Center

o Pet photo day (free) at new park next to Sr. Center

Leading Forward '08: Investing in Leaders

· Invest in leaders. (our church) We have a need to find and empower new leaders, train & develop them and further develop all our leaders. Here is a list of what needs to happen.

o Define and call deacons at Grace. Includes preaching on deacons, setting up the selection process, and communicating their role to the church.

o Call elders. While things are running smoothly it’s a good time to call elders again. It’s been 7 years with the current elders. Some, if not all, will return. Others may be nominated. Even if nothing changes in the end, this process is important for us to go through. This will include preaching on elders and explaining the process for selection.

o Teach S.H.A.P.E. to all our people and challenge them to complete a personal ministry profile. Challenging them to find their place of ministry that fits their “Shape” follows. This would be a series possibly coupled with Home Group curriculum.

o Training conferences. We’ll go to The Summit & Catalyst plus a small group leader’s conference inviting our people to join us.

o We’ll continue to be on the lookout for potential staff members.

o Consider adding an office where coordination and training will be better served.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Leaning Forward '08: Intro

Skiing in WV this Christmas was a blast! I like to ski one way: fast! I learned on this trip that by leaning forward more than I had been I could get better speed without sacrificing control. It also makes a pretty cool analogy for me here. (no pun intended)

I get 'leaning forward' from Phil 3:13-14 where Paul actually wants us to "Press on...straining towards the goal to win the prize." I'm equating 'straining towards' with 'leaning forward'. I want to move forward like Paul did.

I've been thinking a lot about the future at Grace. What kind of church are we? What kind of church will we be in a year? Will we move from going to church to being the church? Will we truly engage our community and serve and love our neighbors or will we just go to church stuff.

The real question that haunts me is, "If we moved, would anybody in my neighborhood care or miss us?" In other words, has my family impacted our neighborhood to such a degree that our neighbors don't want us to go?

People didn't want Jesus to go.

So here is the first of an 8-part series on what I think God wants us to do in 2008. Some things are for individuals, some for families, some for our church and some for The Church. They go roughly as I think they need to calendar-wise or in order of how we'd do them. Of course, our elders and I will prayerfully consider which of these we'll actually do. Some may have to wait. Others may not even be on the list yet. Join me in praying about this process.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008: The Call to Belong

I am excited about 2008 at Grace Christian Fellowship!

We have a strong foundation on which to build. Christ is the cornerstone, to be sure. On top of that we saw Grace grow deeper and wider in many ways. Baptisms were up. Giving was way up. Home Groups were launched and continue to grow. Worship attendance continues to climb as well.

There were other, harder to measure, indications of growth as well. Marriages were strengthened. Leaders emerged ready to serve. Children cared about reaching their neighborhood friends. Many learned better how to trust the Lord in all things. Families got through difficult times by leaning on Christ.

It's hard to measure changed lives sometimes. The numbers don't tell the whole story. (See what one church is doing about that) But when we do "Life together," we see the evidence first hand. Many of you witnessed that at Grace last year.

We're building on that this year. Our theme in '08 "The Call to Belong" flows from Romans 1:6 where we are "Called to belong to Jesus Christ." In Acts 2 we see these same followers interacting as the Body of Christ. That's what authentic community looks like--people living like Jesus would if he were in their shoes. We want to move in that direction this year.

As a result, we'll focus on belonging by going through 40 Days of Community as a church. This series builds on the book Purpose Driven Life. It will not only grow our groups numerically--it will strengthen them as well making them more authentic and loving.

Next week I'll share where I sense God is leading us and how we're going to get there.