Friday, May 30, 2008

Do you know THIS peace?

Author Jim Palmer wrote a compelling article I'm going to quote from,

Can you be at peace in a room where nobody gives you the time of day? Yes, because the source of peace is not whether people notice and accept you or ignore and dismiss you. The source of peace is God within you. That peace is never threatened and is not contingent upon any particular set of circumstances. The life of Jesus is the most compelling example. Few people will ever endure the extent of physical pain inflected upon Jesus. Few people will ever be so utterly rejected and despised as Jesus. He endured the full force of these realities, and yet Jesus was always at peace. Why? Because the source of Jesus' peace was not His human circumstances but his eternal reality. Jesus' peace could not be threatened, because the source could not be threatened.

Do you realize this peace? When Jesus said the peace He gives "is not as the world gives," He was seeking to awaken people to a whole other dimension of life. -Jim Palmer, Leader 22, p. 50 (emphasis mine)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Portable Church

"In the past (a church going mobile or portable) would have been a risky move on the part of a local church, but according to a survey by Dr. Ed Stetzer of the North American Mission Board, 79 percent of people don’t care where a church meets or respond positively to a church that doesn’t meet in a traditional church building. Dr. Stetzer goes on to say: “People matter much more than buildings do.

Those you want to reach are far more interested in how welcomed and loved they feel when they walk through your doors than they are about where you are meeting.” (The survey results, titled “Where Should a New Church Meet?”, can be found at
www.namb.net.)" From Collide Magazine

Monday, May 26, 2008

You are the Church

"You are the church. It's not any of these buildings or any of these venues or paid positions. You are the church. Now go out and make disciples." -Greg Teselle

I haven't read Teselle's controversial book Pagan Christianity, but I like this quote.

As a pastor of a portable church I struggle with when to build a physical church building versus renting space. There's this constant tension from many of your people to build as if to say without a physical building that you own you're not a "real church". I don't think people realize they communicate that but it comes through pretty often. They think everything would be easier if we just had our own building. I'm here to tell you that it's easier not having one.

What do you think is easier and why?

And to the quote, do you think we live more like we are the church or our stuff is the church?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Laminin: God's Super Glue

Linda, a nurse at MUSC and a member of our church, forwarded me this email from a Rhonda McBay who tells this story. It's a great picture of how big God really is...

A couple of days ago I was running (I use that term very loosely) on my treadmill, watching a DVD sermon by Louie Giglio...and I was BLOWN AWAY! I want to share what I learned....but I fear not being able to convey it as well as I want. I will share anyway.

He (Louie) was talking about how inconceivably BIG our God is...how He spoke the universe into being...how He breathes stars out of His mouth that are huge raging balls of fire...etc. etc. Then He went on to speak of how this star-breathing, universe creating God ALSO knitted our human bodies together with amazing detail and wonder. At this point I am LOVING it (fascinating from a medical standpoint, you know.) .....and I was remembering how I was constantly amazed during medical school as I learned more and more about God's handiwork. I remember so many times thinking....'How can ANYONE deny that a Creator did all of this?'

Louie went on to talk about how we can trust that the God who created all this, also has the power to hold it all together when things seem to be falling apart...how our loving Creator is also our sustainer.

And then I lost my breath.

And it wasn't because I was running my treadmill, either! It was because he started talking about laminin.

I knew about laminin. Here is how Wikipedia describes them :'Laminins are a family of proteins that are an integral part of the structural scaffolding of basement membranes in almost every animal tissue.' You see....laminins are what hold us together....LITERALLY. They are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of our bodies to the next cell. Without them, we would literally fall apart. And I knew all this already. But what I didn't know is what laminin LOOKED LIKE.

But now I do.

And I have thought about it a thousand times sin ce (al ready)....Here is what the structure of laminin looks like...AND THIS IS NOT a 'Christian portrayal' of it....if you look up laminin in any scientific/medical piece of literature, this is what you will see...

Now tell me that our God is not the coolest!!!
The glue that holds us together....ALL of us....is in the shape of the cross.
Immediately Colossians 1:15-17 comes to mind:
The Supremacy of Christ
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. --Paul, Colossians 1:15-17 NIV Italics mine

Call me crazy. I just think that is very, very, very cool.
Thousands of years before the world knew anything about laminin, Paul penned those words. And now we see that from a very LITERAL standpoint, we are held together...one cell to another....by the cross.

You would never in a quadrillion years convince me that is anything other than the mark of a Creator who knew EXACTLY what laminin 'glue' would look like long before Adam even breathed his first breath!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Disaster Relief: How you can help

Myanmar Cyclone

World Vision has already provided aid to over 100,000 victims of the devastating cyclone. At least 1.5 million people were severely affected. Please help!

Following massive quake in China, World Vision seeks funding for relief and rehabilitation

Our goal is to reach 107,000 survivors with emergency and recovery assistance, including the establishment of Child-Friendly Spaces for the youngest and most vulnerable.


Go here to see what Samaritan's Purse is doing:


It's not about me

A good reminder of why I don't get to do everything the way I want to: It's not about me.

Funny how God likes to use people in the "Real world" to teach us how to carry out His mission.

“I often went fishing up in Maine during the summer. Personally, I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: ‘Wouldn't you like to have that?’ Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”

- Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Medical Missions in Caribbean

Here is a letter I received in response to my request for help understanding what's involved in setting up a medical mission operation in another country. This couple does this in Jamaica and one of our members at Grace goes down every summer to help. My thinking is that God may be leading us to start one in Dorchester County, SC and in Curacao, NA. Here's the letter:

Dear Darien,

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. We have been going through some personal "testing" down here in FL that has consumed not only our time but our energy and prayer life.
Jim's mother died suddenly last Wednesday so he is adjusting to all those emotions.

We are getting ready for our June trip and for next year, 2009, we would be delighted to have any of your parishioners go with us. The nurses would be a huge help and then they could come back with an "eye witness view" to go along with Linda's impressions over the past 15 years. What a beautiful christian woman Linda is. We are so blessed to have her in our lives. Your congregation sounds delightfully diverse.

Our Mutual Mission with Jamaica includes our entire Presbytery which is 62 churches from Jacksonville (North) to Palm Coast (South) to Lake City (West) in the state of Florida. It was started many years ago as an agricultural program and the Medical/Dental program we have today is an outgrowth of that original program (we no longer do agriculture). We also do an Adult & Youth Exchange and in both cases, our members go down there for 1 week and then the Jamaicans come to us for 1 week (10-15 per group). We try to stress the MUTUAL part because we do not want to imply that we are the ugly americans that can step in and take over their proud country.

Our Presbytery staffs (and bears the expense) of an office down in Jamaica that plans our programs with the member churches from the Moravian, United Church and Methodist denominations. We are known as SAMM (St. Augustine Mutual Mission) and they are known as JEMM (Jamaican Ecumenical Mutual Mission). We practice family medicine down there for the most part and Jim started the dental division in 1990. He started out with just doing extractions (carrying all the equipment from our office here in Jax) and then raised money over the years to buy portable dental units and chairs and generators to do restorative work.

The Jamaican government is very difficult to work with requiring all our volunteers to be "licensed" in Jamaica for the week each year that we are down there. The government too is very very difficult working with us getting meds, supplies and equipment into the country. We have done it for so long that our Presbytery office here in Jacksonville has learned to "play their game".
Jim and I think that your church's relationship with Curacao is such an important first step. Finding out their needs and then forming a plan to meet those needs is so useful. You mentioned your contact with Cesar and Emma. They should be a great help if you wish to expand your program. Jamaica too has socialized medicine but where we go up into the mountains, transportation for those villagers is always an issue. We also take pharmacists with us and medicine are prescribed.
The Jamaicans do pay a small fee (about $3 US) for our services. That is all handled by the Jamaican staff that is with us. The money is kept by JEMM in Jamaica and help to defray some of the costs that they have down there. As I mentioned, the Jamaicans are proud people and they believe that you value more what you pay for by giving back to the organization. They do have scholarship money for those who the ministers believe can not afford even that small amount.
Another huge need was eye care (they requested that from us) so 3 years ago we started taking optometrists with us and dispensing glasses that we get donated or purchase here in the states. All of this is possible with just the one location you have to minister to.
You starting a medical mission will so depend on how welcoming and receptive the government in Curacao is to the idea. They can make it very easy or they can make it so difficult with hundreds of hoops to jump through.

The costs to our participants is paid by the individual doctors and nurses that go and the cost of the medicines and supplies is paid for by the churches in our Presbytery. The charge for the week includes transportation and room and board and is $975 per volunteer and as I mentioned, is paid by each volunteer or the church that they attend. Jim does have a "cart and pony" show that he goes around to the various churches. After the presentation, they take up a love offering.
5 years ago we started a Dental Only trip that does dentures and partials for the Jamaicans...a huge need. On that trip we take a dental lab that Jim and his dental lab owner here in Jacksonville put together themselves. We love that mission also.
Jim said that he would be glad to speak with you personally and answer any particular questions you might have. Our home phone is (904) 725-8526, our office is (904) 744-2655 and his cell is (904) 382-6306. Please do not hesitate if we can help. Again, we would love to have any of your medical people go with us and work with us to truly understand and see first hand what we do. God has blessed this mission and we feel blessed to be a part of it too.
In Christ,
Sharen and Jim Gaff

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pray 1:23

In an effort to more consistently live by faith, I understand I must pray. Prayer is simply a demonstration of my faith that God hears and answers my prayers. If I only talk about prayer, I'm not really relying on God and therefore not pleasing Him. (Heb. 11:6)

So I came up with this (it's probably already out there in some form but here is my version) simple way to remember at least one more time each day to pray.

I'm calling it, Pray 1:23. A little cheesy but work with me on this.

Love God for 1 minute so you’ll love people the rest of the day.

Love God in 2 ways: 1. By praising him for who he is ("God is great, God is good" is who He is) and 2. By thanking Him for all He’s done. ("And we thank Him for our food" (all things--what He's done))

Love People 3 ways: 1. Inward-cleanse me and fill me, 2. Outward-blessed to be a blessing & 3. Upward-Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

But what's going to make this so powerful is that I'm challenging you to join me in praying at that moment each day. It's uncanny how many times our eyes catch that digital clock reading 1:23. So why not turn it into an ally. So I'm calling all of my church and all of you (yes, all 3 of you!) to join me in this simple but powerful discipline.

If you have other thoughts about how to improve this, I'm all ears.

Use it and make it your own. If it gets others praying, I don't care who gets the credit.

Share any verses that are 1:23 that might be appropriate to include with this ally in this war we fight. For ex. Matthew 1:23 includes, "God with us." A pretty powerful reminder each day at 1:23.

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"[a]—which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23 NIV

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tweaking the American Church--that's nuts!

I'm learning that my best blogging happens on the fly. When I plan to blog a series it only works if I do it all right then. So I am going to attempt to be more in the moment as I blog instead of planning it out so much. Hopefully this will result in a more authentic, raw and honest portrayal of what I'm thinking.

This quote is from an author and pastor I am growing to love more and more. I read his book Glocalization which moved my strategy in missions from the drive by to the partnering mode. We're tackling Curacao this way. We plan to partner long-term building relationships and transforming more than individuals--we want to change the world! Bob's newest book is The Multiplying Church which I haven't read yet. But here is a quote from it:
Right now, there are a lot of disgruntled people trying to reinvent the church. It will never work. The church has never been birthed from frustrated people trying to reinvent something that’s lost its punch. Instead, it will be created by those who are passionately in love with Jesus–obeying Him and following Him at all cost–connecting with the big picture of the world and operating in the context of the Kingdom of God.
From my perspective as a young pastor, I agree with this assessment. Tweaking today's church (in America in the south, anyway) is a lost cause. It requires radical surgery. Passion for Christ is the key prescription. May God pour our His Spirit on us so that we'll live out His passion fully and faithfully.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Matt & his tumor

Grace family,

The word is still getting out about Rob and Kady Payne's son Matthew and his brain tumor. Many have asked for more information and I'm going to facilitate that by pointing you to a very helpful resource that will keep you up to date. Below is a link that will take you there.

Please continue to pray for Rob, Kady, Abby and Matt as they walk this difficult journey. But they won't walk it alone! Between our presence and our prayers my hope is that we'll manifest the love of God continually for this beloved family of ours. When one part hurts--we all hurt. So join me in praying and encouraging them.

We're better together,

Dear Friends and Family,
I made a CaringBridge site to keep you up to date on Matthew:
CaringBridge is a nonprofit organization that helps friends and families stay connected to share information, love and support during a health care crisis, treatment and recovery.
Please visit our CaringBridge site anytime. You can use the site to check in on Matthew, read the journal entries and send us encouraging messages/write prayers to God for Matthew & our family by signing our guestbook.
When you register with CaringBridge and sign our guestbook, you will automatically receive e-mail notifications each time our journal is updated. Or, you can subscribe to receive these notifications even before you sign the guestbook. (Of course, you can unsubscribe from these e-mail updates at any time.) Please print and save this e-mail for future reference.
Thank you for the many many prayers, support, & encouragement!
Trusting Him, kady