Friday, April 13, 2007

Holy Smoke

The heavens declare the glory of God, even in Disney World! A few weeks ago, I determined that I would find out who was writing about Jesus in the sky over Disney/ Four Corners. I have enjoyed his work, sometimes standing outside with my kids to watch him draw God's love on the clear blue canvas, sharing the good news in a unique way. As it turns out his name is Jerry Stevens. That is all I know. His website declares that the writer does not matter, but Jesus is all that matters. He makes no apologies for giving a straight forward plan of salvation, then directing people to a Bible believing church. You can visit his website here. I emailed Jerry and told him that I owe him lunch. I just want to meet this guy and tell him how much it means to me to know that he is up there telling us down here about God's love. Go to his website and tell him that the people of Cornerstone in Four Corners are behind him 100%!

Baby Sienna

Just a quick announcement for all you CBC people. I just got an email from Kelly Smy and Cristina (early service) had little Baby Sienna and both are doing great. She was 7 pounds 11 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. I guess that makes me a new pastor, or Uncle or something right? Here is her picture.

Sensational Sunday

I am pumped about our new series at Cornerstone. Since we began Cornerstone we have seen many couple who struggle in their marriages. I a way, I guess we all do. Some of them were able to hold it together, and some not so much. This Sunday we start a study on the Five Love Language book in all of our small groups and I will be preaching the principles as they are found in God's Word. Strong marriages equal strong homes. Strong homes equal strong churches. and, Strong churches equal strong communities. Do Not Miss out on the beginning of this great series. This week we will be focusing on Words, from James 3 and a few other passages. The Bible Fellowship Tables will review chapter 4, "Words of Affirmation." It is going to be awesome.

Tastes Like Chicken

Apparently that is what the Geico cavemen knew that we are just figuring out. According to Fox News and North Carolina State University, (Article here) the T-Rex is most closely akin to chicken. ...Big head and little arms... Anyway, The brilliant professors at NC State found this out when they decided to break this gazillion year old bone so that they could lift it with their helicopter. Upon doing so, they found soft tissue that miraculously survived since the Jurassic era until now. This soft tissue is not viable for DNA ala Jurassic Park, but enough to know at least two things. Only one they are willing to admit. The first, that the T-Rex is most like a chicken in its bone density and type. And my scientific observation... soft tissue = young earth. Dinosaurs did not go extinct millions of years ago, but only thousands. Soft bone tissue still exists and it perfectly states that this particular Dino is no more than about 10,000 years old. Thank You NC State for the most scientific breakthrough since Lucy. And to the rest of you Darwinists...break a leg.

Have Podcast Will Travel

I can't remember the last time I listened to broadcast radio. Since I got my iPod last year for my birthday, in which everyone chipped in, I am my own station manager. I recently began adding books via, it is all books in the public domain, read by volunteers. Back to the story: Another of my favorite things to do is listen to other churches and pastors speak. I register for the podcast at iTunes, and it automatically downloads it to my iPod, where I can listen to it on my schedule. Thanks to Chuck Stephens, our resident Computer Guru, we are now podcasting. If you want to subscribe to have the podcast automatically downloaded to your computer or Mp3 player, you can here. I think this is just one more way to make CBC available to you on your schedule. A while back, I ran into Jody Ciccarello on her way to work, we rolled down the windows to say hi, and she said "Hey, I was just listening to you on the way to work." That made my day, and reminded me that we should not limit our messages to Sunday morning. Subscribe. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Of Marriage, Church & Mortgages

I got married in the summer of 1995. I guess if I had to answer the question of why, it was because I love my wife and I want to spend my life with her. Marriage was a good way to do that, so we were married. A lot of things were not motives, but became secondary goals. One of which was home ownership. I am glad to say that within 7 months of being married, we made a down payment on our first home. The house was small and needed a lot of work, but it was a great place for the two of us to live, and to begin our family. I say that to say this; Never did our ownership of a home define the validity of our marriage relationship. No one ever questioned us as to why we rented, or wondered if not owning a home would threaten the state of our marriage. As long as we had each other we were happy. Now I am not going to say that I am sorry that we own our home, and that it has been a blessing and a help to our marriage. But on the same notion, I refuse to let our marriage be defined or destroyed by this separate issue. Every time I am around other pastors, mostly those who have mortgages, their first, and it seems their only question has to do with home ownership. "Have you found land?" "How is the search for a building going?" It aggravates me that the perception by most Christians is that having a building defines a having a church. I know that they mean well, and probably pray for me to achieve, but it is really a non-driving force in our church. We are happy to rent. Set up and tear down each week do not compare to the joys of insurance and building maintenance, but maybe one day. Until then we are just happy to be together!

Do ya wanna come?

I grew up in a rules based circle. Not so much my home, but the church, and school, and the college I attended. At times I found myself on one side or the other of those rules. Some of us, like Hogan's Heros would tunnel out from time to time. Go on a mission, then return safely to those fenced yards. Looking back, I am neither thankful, nor am I bitter against the rules. I just don't know.

Rules make us feel right with God without the need for faith and charity. As long as we are inside the gate, we are safe, we are in right standing with God. We can feel good about ourselves, as we peer over to the other side and point out the train wrecks, the broken lives and shake our short haired, combed over, clean shaven heads. I clearly remember as a young boy of maybe 7 or 8 dreaming of what it would be like to go to public school. To stand up for God against teachers of evolution, pushers of cigarettes, and cursers of God. I longed to get outside the fence, not to involve myself in sin, but to exercise my faith to stand upright in a perverse generation.

Rules make us feel right with God without the need for faith and charity. Yes, inside the fence they feel like Christians, they base their christian life on their ability to fight off the temptation to venture out knowing that to step out of bounds is to compromise one's faith and the feeling of salvation flees.

Rules make us feel right with God without the need for faith and charity but, what if there is another way to feel saved, other than by staying behind the fence. What if I could feel saved as I walked and moved in culture. As I rubbed shoulders with drug addicts and homosexuals. What if I could do all this and feel saved, not by comparing my piety to theirs, but by exercising my faith and charity. Its just a thought. Lets not take it too seriously. After all this virtual monastery is what God intended right?

Rules make us feel right with God without the need for faith and charity, but a couple of us guys, tonight, after the guards make their last headcount and rounds. We are going to tunnel out. We are going to make a run for it. Do ya wanna come?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Drifting, Surfing, Drowning and Sailing
In Puddles, Swamps, Wells and Oceans

Each week I receive the Monday Morning Memo. At this point they are not providing RSS so I will cut and paste for you here. You can register to receive their emails here.

Mike Metzger from Clapham Institute in Annapolis.

"You meet 4 kinds of people on the ocean of life," Mike said.

Drifters "Those who drift just go with the flow. The wind and the waves control their speed and direction. The drifter quietly floats along and says, ‘Whatever.'"

Surfers "Those who surf are always riding a wave, the next big thing. They stay excited until the wave fades away, then they scan the horizon for something new. Surfers don't usually get anywhere, but they make a lot of noise and put on a good show."

Drowners "Those who drown seem to stay in the center of a storm. It doesn't matter how often you rescue them, they'll soon be in another crisis, crying, ‘Help me, save me, it's been the worst week of my life. I don't know what I'm going to do.'"

Sailors "Those who sail are navigating toward a fixed point. They counteract the wind and waves by adjusting the rudder and shifting the sails to stay on course. But without an immovable, fixed point in your life, there can be no sailing. There's nothing for you but drift, surf or drown."Can you name the fixed point in your life, your immovable object?

Metzger's metaphor reminded me of something Ray Bard once taught me. Bard, that legendary publisher of business books, speaks of 4 kinds of opportunities:"When you're thinking about writing a book on a subject or considering a business to go into, it's essential that you find out 2 things:1. How widespread is the public interest in it? 2. How deep is that Interest?"

"If interest is not widespread and not very deep, you're looking at a puddle. Never invest time or money in a puddle."

"If interest is widespread but not very deep, you're looking at a swamp. Be careful of swamps. They look like oceans at first because everyone is interested. But that interest is shallow, not deep enough to drive action. Investors go broke when they see a swamp and think it's an ocean."

"If public interest is wide and deep, you're looking at an ocean. But you're going to need a platform on which to navigate your ocean. If you don't have a platform, you'll drown. And you're going to need a plan or you'll drift."

"If public interest is narrow but deep, you've got a well. Don't underestimate it. You can draw a lot of water from a well. I once knew a writer who wrote a book called The Care and Feeding of Quarter Horses. The book held no interest for readers who didn't own a quarter horse, but those who did had deep enough interest to buy the book. It was extremely successful."

Are you in a puddle, a swamp, an ocean or a well? Are you drifting, surfing, drowning or sailing?

Elk Lock Horns and Die

I ran across this picture from the Smithsonian. Apparently like humans, Elk tend to lock horns. They become territorial, take a position and stand their ground. Unfortunately, for this pair and for many who choose to be like them it was pointless for both. How often do we lock horns in our marriages, at our work, and in our churches? Do we take a stand, not on moral principle, but on personal preference. Then, when someone threatens our position, we lower our head state our opinion and lock horns. This Sunday, we will be talking about Words of Affirmation. Words can get us into trouble, the words we say, the positions we take. Words are hard to take back, before we know it we end up defending a position we really do not care about, but for the sake of argument we stand our ground and lock horns. A battle of the wills, a battle to the death. What are you tempted to lock horns over? What arguments should you simply walk away from?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Sunday Music

Here is a link to the MP3's of this past Sunday's special music. I said it Sunday and I will say it again. Our Music is awesome. You can download them by right-clicking on the link and "save target as."

The Masters' Master's Master

Did you watch the Masters golf tournament yesterday? If not, you may have missed the virtually unknown "Zach Johnson" tame Tiger Woods and win his green Jacket. What was awesome was as he was awaiting Tiger to finish, he was asked how he kept himself calm. He gave one of the best testimonies I have heard in professional sports. I do not have the direct quote, but in essenece he said "I don't think I am calm ... being Easter, my faith is very important to me, and Jesus was walking with me, I felt him..." I love to hear an athlete reference his faith. I love to watch the interviewer squirm, I love to call my kids into the room to hear someone give a reason of the hope that lies within.

Athletes refer to this as a "platform." They believe that God has given them a platform to give God the glory. I was disappointed after the FL Gators won the championship, they talked about partying all night long. But it will be a long time before I forget Lovey Smith and Tony Dungee's full page article on Superbowl Sunday, using their platform to share Christ. My question is this, are we waiting for a national platform? Or, is our platform the same as any opportunity. We may not have TV cameras, or microphones to indicate our "platform," but we must take every opportunity to share Christ with others.

I have never seen the sun

I have never, in my life, seen the sun. No I am not blind, but every attempt I have made to look at the sun has been a failure. You see, each time I try, the light is so bright that my human eyes are unable to see past the light, to the surface of the sun.

Even though I have never seen the sun, I do believe that it exists. Why? Because without the sun, I would not be able to see anything at all. I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but because of the light that it sheds on everything else.
One day, I will have new eyes and will be able to see the sun, but until then I am content to live in the knowledge of its presence and walk in its light.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

What an amazing day. After subtracting doubles we had 226 in attendance today in three services. Let me be the first to say that everything was awesome. It went so smooth that it was hard to believe. Each service was well full and there would have been no way if so many of you had not attended the 8:15 service. Thanks a bunch. I will say that our leadership was incredible. Sue, 900 eggs later, wow! Gabe, your team was outstanding today, and the special music what can I say. We have the best music! Bruce, you and the welcome team did a great job taking care of our guests. I am so proud to get to serve along side of all of you. Many of you brought cameras today and as I get pics I will post them here for you to see. Thanks again for making today a great start to our new Five Love Languages Series!