Saturday, March 24, 2007

Props to my Boy Benj

Today, I will be able to sit in on the ordination council for one of the guys who was in my youth group. Ben and I shared so many good times. From the down load on a Saturday morning following my first date with Amy. Ben is a solid guy and has developed into a great youth pastor. Ben, I am so proud of you. I look forward to celebrating with you.

Twas the night before Sunday

Twas the night before Sunday 'n one thing's for certain,
Not a paper was printing not even the bulletin.

The lessons were written on the hard drive with care,
in hopes that the printin' soon would be there.

When up from the printer there arose such a clatter,
I sprung from my chair to see what was the matter.

With a groan a mumble and a click, click, click,
I knew in a moment the paper did stick.

More rapid than eagles his curses they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called it a name!

Now Crasher! now, Slasher now, Crusher and Crammer!
On, Crummy! On, Stupid! on, Dummy and Jammer!

From the top of my lungs! I began to squall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the UPS store the pastor he flew,
With the thumb drive full of docs, and handouts too.

And then, with a squinting, I saw on the door
The sign on the front said they were open no more.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the road to Gabe's house I went with a bound.

He laughed in my face, from his head to his foot,
As my clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of papers I needed in fact,
bound and bundled in a neat little stack.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the trays, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his paper the green light it glows,
And giving a click, it came out in rows!

He sprang to his tray, as his printer gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

And I heard him exclaim, ‘ere I drove out of sight,"
Happy Sunday to all, and to all a good-night!"

Natural Law of Reproduction

In Genesis 11:11,12 God gives us a bit of natural law.

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Natural Law states that everything brings forth fruit after its kind. Evolution aside, this principle applies to all of our lives. Here is where I am going. The purpose of an apple tree is to produce, not apples, but other apple trees. Fruit happens along the way, but that fruit must translate into other trees. The same can be said of the human race, grass, herbs, animals, etc.

As believers we are commanded by God to bear fruit, according to this law, the purpose of Christians is to bring forth after our kind. Therefore Christians should make more Christians. The purpose of discipleship is not smart disciples, but new disciplers. The purpose of churches is to start more churches. each according to its kind. ... And God saw that it was good.

4 Christian Idols

American Idol touts four professing believers. I have to say that this is a surprise to me, but it really should not have been. This season has offered some great contestants. According to the Christian Post, Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Chris Sligh, and Phil Stacey, are all Christians. As it turns out, Phil Stacey attended Liberty University, in Lynchburg VA, where our own Gabe Dunlap graduated. Now I will not know how to cast my vote, I guess I will have to base my vote on secondary issues such as the music. You can find the story here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Did you know that there is a new YouTube for Christians. It is still in Beta but is up and running here. It will most likely be filled up by churches who produce inhouse commercials and along with a whole lot of religious nuts looking for a free platform. Only time will tell if the start up company will be able to police the videos for the type of fare that finds its way onto Youtube. I hope it does well. They are already bosting my favorite viral video "Big Bibles."

Easter Insomnia

I am so excited about what God is doing at Cornerstone that I can hardly sleep. I am not kidding, for the past few weeks I have been up around 4, just planning and working towards our Easter Services. We are anticipating the best Sunday ever in the history of Sundays. Our leaders are working hard on some great music, messages, and Easter egg hunts. You don't want to miss out. For crowd purposes we will be offering three identical services this year. One at 8:15, one at 9:30 and one at 10:45. There will be two Easter egg hunts following both of the later services. Also, we are expecting record attendance and need our regulars to let us know what service they plan on attending and what service they will be available to volunteer. If you're a regular, we will need you to double up so that we can make our guest's first time to be all that it should be.

Speaking at Sonshine

Today, I am heading to Port Charlotte to speak to the Sonshine Baptist Church about the importance of church planting. My goal is to challenge them to view thebarrenness among churches equal to that felt by people who cannot have children of their own. Too often churches will settle for chipping in support for the plant of a sister church much in the way that we give gifts to our neices and nephews. As much fun as they might be, neices and nephews can never bring the joy of birthing and bringing to maturity a baby of your own. Maybe, one day we will see a baby church begun, as Sonshine enters the joys of parenthood.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Church Planting in Knoxville or Bust

The other day I was able to sit down with Chris Sliger who is going to West Knoxville TN to plant a church. In our conversation he asked a few questions that I thought I would share for your comment. The first had to do with strategy. What was your approach to starting Cornerstone? This was a broad question, but I have come to value several things in relation to church planting. foremost, it must come as a result of a call of God on your life. If God has not lead you into it, then you will not survive, and may lose your family in the process. Secondly, do not start a church without a committed team of people who have bought into your vision. New churches need quality ministries to attract people to join in the venture. Without a team, it is highly unlikely that one couple will be able to provide quality, without burning out in the process. Finally, it take a lot of money to launch, and every effort needs to be made so that the staff can be devoted full time to establishing the church. The ministry of church planting is too important to be done on leftover time.

New Park in Four Corners

Polk County is in the process of purchasing 81 acres just about 1 mile South of US 192 along 27 for a new park. We have been going for so long without a park that we will not know what to do with ourselves. I almost feel like Pinocchio when he discovered he was no longer made from wood. "I feel like a real town!" It will have access to Lake Davenport so boating and fishing may be an option. My hope is that it will also include some ball fields and maybe even a rec center. Way to go Polk! Now let's get parking... or whatever you call it.

Evangelism @ Work

This Sunday we will be talking about personal evangelism. God has called every believer to share their faith with the WORLD. Most of us struggle, with the mechanics, and have been taught evangelism methods that are either confrontational or lifestyle. Adding to the problem is that most witnessing training begins with the Romans Road, or the 4 Spiritual Laws, etc. begin when we are ready to walk someone through the last few steps of what is truly a marathon. Inadequate to say the least for today's culture. On Sunday we will see that there is more to evangelism than the Romans road, and that we must meet people where they are and help them round the bases and arrive home safely. The Detroit Free Press has an article about just this thing written by a writer for the Orlando Sentinel. It is about Discovery Church's new at work evangelism course. You can find it here. I would be interested to hear what you think. Is it too pushy to talk God at work? Should Christians just practice lifestyle evangelism? What about those guys who give God a bad rap by being belligerent with their coworkers?

Land Acquisition Team Meeting

Last night we met with Sean Fullerton, our real estate guru. He has been on the wholesale side of some of the largest developments in Four Corners such as Champions Gate and Reunion. He came prepared with large maps for all of our team, and spent an hour describing different properties that would be of interest to Cornerstone. A few things I want to pass on to everyone from the meeting. First, we have the best. Sean knows his stuff and he is deeply committed to Christ. Second, there are some really neat options and angles that he is working on our behalf. Third, right now everything is out of our price range so we need to trust God to work out the details. God has already blessed us so much while meeting at the school, and we are content to tabernacle there until He moves us on. Until that day, we must remain faithful to give, faithful to pray, and faithful to serve Him right here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New School in Four Corners

Lake County is building a new elementary school which will be 3 miles north of US 192 in the Sawgrass Development. As there is a great need for more schools, more everything, now there seems to be a little strife between counties over the 150 seats that Lake county owns the rights to at Four Corners Charter. The Orlando Sentinel has a story about it here. I get a little bit defensive of "Our School" {Four Corners Charter School is where Cornerstone holds its weekly gatherings} because their revenue is based on the number of students they have in desks. It is not right for Lake County to sit on 150 chairs at $7,000 a piece based on the fact that they may need them at some point down the road, but unless they are willing to fork over the $1,050,000.00 in lost revenue, those chairs should be made available to Polk County students. All said and done, I am sure that things will work out fine, but these are the struggles of Building Life Together here in Four Corners. Like it or not, we are one community in four counties and we rely on each other's cooperation to make it work.

Small Group

"We talked it over and when we get back home, we are getting involved in a small group at our church."

I had lunch with a snowbird who was doing the last minute pre-flight check before heading north. "Give me a quick SWOT analysis of Cornerstone," I said, as I always try to get a reading from outsiders on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. "Keep up the emphasis on small groups." At first I must admit I had to ask if he saw small groups as a weakness or a strength. In truth I still see it as a weakness because so many are reluctant to get involved in meeting every week to study and apply the Bible to everyday life. But for him, it was a strength, as it is with those ho have committed to join one of our Bible Fellowship tables. I was moved to tears as he told me how our small groups ministered to them during their short time, and how they will join a small group when they get home. I will pound this drum until God takes my drumsticks away, that church is more than just showing up on Sundays. IT is walking together with other believers and Building Life Together!

American Idol

American Idol, is without question the hottest show on TV, they are bullying their way to take up the prime time slot 2 to 3 times a week. My vote, if I took time to call, is for Chris Sligh. He grew up as a missionary kid, maybe in Germany. He then attended the Bob Jones University, a very conservative school in Greenville SC, before starting a Christian band and leading worship at Seacoast church also in Greenville. Chris is just a normal guy, who seems to be having fun on the show. I spent some time doing some research on him, and was impressed to see that he has a deeper side. MSNBC did an article on him here. You can also read from Chris' blog here. But he has taken most of it down, for some reason during Idol. However he has another blog here, which discusses his thoughts on life and God. In his last few entries he struggles with the balance between the conservative upbringing and real life issuse of today. Growing up, my dad went to Seminary at BJ, the chuch I attended in high school was big on BJ, I went to Clearwater aka BJ on the Bay, and my wife's parents members of a BJ style church. That being aside, I know right where Chris is coming from, I know his struggles. For all that, he has come away with his faith intact, and has found a balance between real life and real faith. I hope that he goes far in the competition and that God will enlarge his influence so that God can get all the glory even in this search for an idol. Maybe Chris, will be like Paul on Mars Hill, you have here merely an idol, let me introduce you to Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Wow! This past Sunday we were able to have the brand new recording artist Anadara with us for a concert of praise. Her music is deeply spiritual as well as inspiring. She happened to have the same booking agent as Gabe, so he called and told us that she would be in town and was available. I for one am so glad that we were able to have her come, before she goes to the Crystal Cathedral on April 29th. We had her first! I believe that she will blow up on the Christian music scene with her great songwriting, and awesome acoustic sound. Her spirit was equally deep and it came across to our church in a big way. The crowd was lined up to buy her CD after the service, with some even making an ATM run between services! Thanks Anadara and Rocky for your ministry! You can buy her music from iTunes, or by going to her website .


Last Sunday night Gabe and I had a chance to go to a new church start in Lakeland called Gravity. The "Vision Pastor" is a young guy named Boomer, and he has a neat thing going in the Black and Brew Coffee Shop. The church is geared to 20 somethings and has the feel of a dorm room Bible Study. Being Spring Break, there was a smaller than usual crowd there, but the discussion on worship was energetic. I kept hearing phrases like "in the daily" and instead of calling it church they refer to it as a "gathering." Their goal is not necessarily to begin a church that will blossom into bricks and mortar, but to be the church where they are, and to develop one another for leadership in the church when they graduate. Great job and keep up the good work Boomer!

Reproducing Churches Network

Reproducing churches is a network of pastors/planters who are highly motivated to see churches started along the I-4 corridor. The premise is that we will work together for prayer, mutual support and encouragement through networking. What is exciting for me is the deep level of commitment to one another as well as some massive goals. It is not about a large denomination planting one or two churches in the state, but each church reproducing itself and birthing a new congregation. For too long we have been waiting for renewal to come to older congregations, it is now time for young churches to begin to reproduce. It is not enough to simply give towards church planting. For most churches it is simply a line item in a massive budget. For those of us at reproducing churches, it is a mandate to go make babies! Churches that is...

From Bogging to Blogging

It is official, after 6 months off it is time to reinvent the blog. Our first attempt at blogging became a bit of more of a bog as the site lacked direction and focus. It is our goal with the new blog to develop several different threads. The first and foremost will be to look around the corners at church to anticipate the future and reflect on the past. The second is to give insight into the inner workings of the church and how we are Building Life Together. Third, we will try to address current events relevant to those of us living here in Four Corners. In the end it is our goal that the blog be a place where you can get a feel for the church, get to know the staff, and understand how we intend to follow God's leading at Cornerstone.