Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who's Writing Your Story?

So there's this conference going on this week called Story 09. Seeing lots of cool comments on Twitter about it. Funny how it coincides with my devotional that I'm bringing on Friday morning at Greenville Rescue Mission.

My life is a story, so is yours. We write it but we don't write it alone.

I love how Jesus used stories when he taught. He found that stories reach people in a way that a systematic theology never can. The religious rulers of His day had been trying the systematic route for hundreds of years; isn't it ironic that they with the most knowledge completely missed the Messiah! Sadly, biblical knowledge is still the name of the game in many of our congregations and we are playing with people's lives! How awesome it is to see God raise up churches that are working to master the art of story-telling. Nothing seems to move us more than hearing the amazing work of God in each others lives as related by story, whether verbally, musically or pictorially.

Jesus invites us into the story that He is writing. I LOVE the account in John 4 when Jesus purposely travels to a region usually shunned by the Jewish community - Samaria. Jesus loved the people of Samaria (as indicated by His using a Samaritan character in one of His stories:The Good Samaritan) and was ready to get the healing process started between Judah and what were the rebellious intermarrying tribes of old Israel.

The woman that he encountered at Jacob's well was drawn into conversation with Jesus (Read Here) and what caught my eye like never before and prompted me to know this was the passage to share with the guys on Friday was this: "No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it. The woman took the hint and left." We've ALL experienced that! These guys at the Mission are exteme examples of people shunned by society but we have at times shared that common experience with them.

On the flip-side, how many times have I turned people away with a look? Jesus' plans are to give people a "future and a hope". He wants to write our story with us. If I don't love my neighbor (everyone) as the Good Samaritan did, then I may be aiding Satan's authoring of people's story.

So who are you letting co-author your story?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

HopeATL Workday

Wow, what an amazing day with the folks at HopeATL.

Around 100 of us from NewSpring Church had the privilege of going to Austell, GA (just southwest of Atlanta) to do some clean up in the neighborhood of Sweetwater Creek.

4 weeks ago, due to a tremendous amount of rain hanging over the Atlanta area, this neighborhood (less than 10 years old), experienced major flooding when Sweetwater Creek swelled out of it's banks and began pooling in the lower areas of the subdivision.

As you can see in the pictures, many had water up to the second story! What happened after the rains stopped was that many churches began disaster relief efforts. One in particular was Courageous Church led by Shaun King. This church has done a great job with awareness and rallying the body of Christ into action. All of these homes had to be gutted down to the stud walls and made ready for reconstruction. In the process of gutting, people's lawns were completely covered in drywall/sheetrock pieces (totally nasty!) and when we got there, our job was to bring the color GREEN back to this neighborhood.
It was pretty crazy and amazing to be a part of what was like a Colony of Ants on a pile of Sugar! We just kept going and going and by 4pm had touched over 40 home's yards - raking, sweeping, shoveling, and bagging. At one point, I looked up and saw about 3o people pick up a 10 by 20 foot deck that had floated 5 houses away and carry it back to where it came from!
Of the homeowners that came around (all had to move out!), our interactions with them brought many tears! I cannot fathom what they went through - one homeowner we met, described that day with, "One minute, there was 2 inches of standing water in the street, and within 1 hour, the water was licking at our rooftop!"

This is part of what it means to BE the church, and it was a blessing to get to be a part of this event!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Unwind Time

I'm relaxing in the hammock right now... Been a long week and another long week is approaching. Mowing was done earlier this week so I am relaxing, the Carolina/Kentucky game is on, gonna go out to Kim's gramma's after the game to hang a few pictures, get to sit in church tomorrow with the family. Ahhh...

Down time is so important. Your body and brain need a rest (1 day in 7 is how it's designed) to function at its best during the week. No guilt, no pressure, ya gotta do it or your body and brain have a way of forcing it upon you. Even Jesus took the time to get away from the crowds and ministry and spend with His friends in a non-pressure environment.

And by the way, there is nothing more relaxing than a hammock...just sayin!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life's Obstacles and Prayer

I've been blown away by seeing answers to prayer in the new relationships I've formed through Facebook and Twitter. I've seen people healed, sickness diverted, marriage restored, and financial crisis averted. It's been so cool to be a part of seeing God move in response to our prayer.

Life is full of obstacles, even in this Good Life. How do we deal with them. I have a secret. Not really, just something that I've often neglected but am experiencing more. Prayer. When life throws me a curve, I reach out to God and also to others I know who faithfully remember me in prayer. It makes a major difference when you connect with the One who knows your situation inside and out. God is just waiting for us to bring it to Him. We often see these curveballs as obstacles to try and overcome on our own when God maybe is allowing them - to see what we will do with it.

It all comes back to Relationship. Jesus is not some nice little way of life for a kind of "Hey, whatever works for you" approach to life. He is our Redeemer, that means: He made this universe, He made us, He holds creation by the word of His power, He wants us back, He paid the price to buy us back that we can NEVER pay ourselves. Take that in, He WANTS us. He WANTS a real relationship with us. He WANTS what's best for us. He WANTS us to know how much He loves us.

How many religions out there do you know in which the founding person desires to have a real and personal relationship with us? Lots want us to find ourselves and offer many great suggestions to find happiness but only Jesus personally invites us to know Him and spend eternity with Him. This relationship begins through the communication of Prayer. Real prayer is not elaborate, it is a simple call to God through faith saying, "Jesus, I can't make it on my own, I need You! Let me be Yours". Or for life's circumstances, "Jesus, I don't know what to do, please give me wisdom, please intervene, and let me learn what You want me to learn through this"

15 years ago when Kim and I lost Valerie at 3 1/2 weeks after delivery, we had no where to go and no one to cling to but Jesus. Only Jesus could have done what we experienced. The arms of God were wrapped around us in a way beyond explanation. His presence was as real to us as the grass beneath our feet and the hug of our little boy who had come to love his little sister.

Prayer brings us to the ultimate reality. That God is here and as close as calling His name. That he waits for that conversation as much as you look forward to going out and being with your friends.

What are we waiting for?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Home In Caroline

Well, what a day today in Rock Hill, SC! Got to spend it with close to 200 teachers and my CSI and Promethean peeps. These teachers converged from all over North and South Carolina to present and learn best practices using interactive whiteboards and other technologies in teaching.

So it was only fitting that after getting home, I tackled recording my song about being at home in the carolinas. God has really blessed us here with being able to live in this awesome piece of geography that is the upstate of South Carolina. We've been here over 20 years now and have enjoyed exploring the amazing places from the mountains of western NC to the midlands and coastal regions of both Carolinas. We really do have it all!

Hope you enjoy this song, it's always a favorite anywhere around here that I've sung it. You'll find the link down by the rest of my songs.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jesus, You Are

So a while back I posted the lyrics to this new song. Just a simple worship to Jesus. He Is Everything that we've ever searched for, and so very near as your own heartbeat. And just like you love to hear the heartbeat of your loved ones next to you, He is longing for that with us. Just click over and down to the right to listen and feel free to join in worship!

More Than I Deserve

Did a remix of More Than I Deserve tonight as I figure out Garage Band. This song came from a series at New Spring where we were encouraged to be inviting people.

The power of invitation and loving people face to face.

Then reading the story of the guys who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, I was struck with the fact that when we do the same for each other today, we allow people to encounter Jesus in a way that can be quite unexpected!

Just click the link to the right for a listen and enjoy!